Will D.C. Gun Ruling Affect Sentence Enhancements?

At Sentencing Law and Policy, Douglas Berman wonders how Friday's decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidating the District of Columbia's gun control laws will affect sentence enhancements, particularly those predicated on simple gun possession:

in the wake of Parker, defendants facing sentencing enhancements based on having guns in their homes likely can and should raise constitutional objections based on the Second Amendment. And courts, applying constitutional doubt doctrines, probably should now be more cautious about broad applications of sentencing enhancements based on having guns in the home.

Berman notes a case in which the defendant's sentence was enhanced because of guns found in his home. Is this kosher after the Parker decision? After all, if a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to own a gun in the home, on what basis could simple gun possession in the home increase a defendant's sentence? It's an interesting question that I leave for sentencing mavens and other VC readers to ponder.

I think there should be some significant nexus between the crimes and the guns. If I get arrested for domestic violence because I hit my wife upside the head, it shouldn't matter if I have a gun in the closet or dresser. If I am storing cocaine or heroin in my home and I have guns in the next room, then probably the guns do matter.

But really it comes down to the fact if you are living a criminal life style, and it is reasonable to assume the guns are part of that lifestyle then they are an element of the crime. If you are a mostly law abiding citizen and you have a minor transgression, it is unlikly that gun possesion is a part of that minor transgression.

I think they should also be required to link the gun to the criminal, not just the criminal and the gun to the same household.
3.11.2007 10:08pm