After gun ban ruling, Menino to press on

Howard Manly | 7/2/2008, 5:35 a.m.

Joining dozens of mayors across the country, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said his fight to enact what he called “common sense regulations” to prevent the use of handguns by criminals in the City of Boston will continue, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing a ban on such guns in the nation’s capital.

“While I support our constitutional rights,” Menino said in a prepared statement, “I continue to fight for common sense regulations to prevent firearms from getting in the hands of criminals that seek to cause harm.”

Though he praised the Supreme Court for providing clarity on one of the nation’s hot-button issues with its decision last Thursday, Menino, co-chair of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, nevertheless explained that he and other mayors are “on the front lines in ensuring a safe and peaceful place for people to live, work and raise their families.”

To that end, Menino said, “It is imperative that we continue to work together with our federal partners in adopting laws that will help mayors and law enforcement officials from across the country protect and serve their communities.”

Last week, the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns in the justices’ first-ever pronouncement on the meaning of gun rights under the Second Amendment.

But the court said the right to bear arms is not absolute, and that the ruling should not affect federal restrictions on the sale of guns, who may own them or where they may be carried.

Gun rights supporters cheered the ruling, and while many gun control advocates expressed dismay, others working to limit gun violence in big cities said the court’s decision would not hinder their efforts to prevent bloodshed.

“In limiting its opinion to the matter of self-defense, and in saying the right is not absolute, the United States Supreme Court decision … is an explicit statement of support for cities all across America who are creating reasonable measures to limit the ability of those who will do harm, who will maim, who will buy, carry weapons illegally,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty responded to the ruling with a plan to require residents of the nation’s capital to register their handguns.

“More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence,” he said.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, predicted that the ruling would open the door to challenges of regulations already adopted by state and local governments nationwide.

“Now it’s going to be open season on gun regulations,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a cottage industry of lawsuits against gun regulations, even regulations that in the end are going to be upheld.”

After last Thursday’s decision, gun rights groups filed a lawsuit against Chicago’s handgun ban, which closely resembles the Washington law that was struck down. The National Rifle Association planned to file a similar complaint against San Francisco.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said the court’s ruling was “a very frightening decision” and predicted greater violence if his city’s law was overturned.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the ruling a “reckless interpretation of the Second Amendment” — one that the city of Chicago doesn’t have to accept.

“We must fight for the legal restrictions on where these gun shops can be,” Jackson said during a protest at the headquarters of his RainbowPUSH Coalition last Friday. “We will fight the easy access to guns and gun flow. We can picket and boycott stores that can endanger us.”

Jackson was joined by some of Chicago’s most prominent religious leaders, including St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pfleger, who had a fiery message for the Supreme Court.

“Obviously, the Supreme Court in their ivory tower is really disconnected,” Pfleger said. “They’re so disconnected that they cannot hear the cries of parents who are burying their children.”