WashPost Failed to Talk to Winners of Gun Rights Case

Reporting on Mayor Adrian Fenty (D-D.C.) and his decision to appeal a gun rights case to the Supreme Court, the Washington Post failed to consult any of the half-dozen citizens of the District of Columbia who won the lawsuit in federal Circuit Court four months earlier.

Reporter David Nakamura quickly revealed to readers that the liberal mayor was couching his appeal as an effort to protect the citizens of the gun-crime-plagued city.

The District will ask the Supreme Court to uphold its strict 30-year handgun ban, setting up what legal experts said could be a test of the Second Amendment with broad ramifications.

The high court has not ruled on the Second Amendment protection of the right to keep and bear arms since 1939. But at a morning news conference yesterday, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Attorney General Linda Singer said they expect the court to hear a case they called crucial to public safety.

A few grafs later, Nakamura quoted Fenty, who heads the city government that was the losing party to Parker v. District of Columbia. That's fair enough, Fenty is the guy taking the case to the High Court, he should be quoted first. But what about this Parker fellow?

He was nowhere to be found in Nakamura's article, although Post reporter Paul Duggan gave readers of the Post a glimpse into Palmer's plight in a March 18 article. Of the six plaintiffs on the case, libertarian and Cato Institute constitutional lawyer Robert Levy knew just one:

Tom G. Palmer, 50, a Cato colleague who is gay. Years ago in California, Palmer said, he brandished a pistol to scare off several men who he feared were about to attack him because of his sexual orientation. He said he wants to be able to legally defend himself in his Washington home.

A gay man in a liberal, gay-friendly city wants to be able to protect himself from armed assailants rather than roll the dice waiting for D.C.'s Metropolitan Police. Fair enough, but you had to have read the March article by Duggan to get that. Nakamura didn't get comment from Palmer, nor any of the other two men and three women that are party to the lawsuit for today's story.

According to Duggan, the group filing suit are diverse:

They went with three men and three women, from their mid-20s to early 60s, four of them white and two black. They found a mortgage broker from Georgetown and a neighborhood activist in a crime-scarred area of Northeast Washington. They also lined up a communications lawyer, a government office worker and a courthouse security guard. In their disparate walks of life, the six shared an eagerness to arm themselves.

Nakamura did quote from Parker's attorney, Alan Gura, but gave him only enough ink to render a sound bite about his hope for a favorable outcome.

By contrast, Nakamura cited pro-Fenty "constitutional law experts" to blithely dismiss the merits of the case.

"This is not a law which takes away the rights to keep and bear arms... It regulates one kind of weapon: handguns," insisted former acting solicitor general Walter E. Dellinger III.

If one substitutes language in there about freedom of press or speech and you see the laughability of that statement, but no rebuttal was allowed of Parker or any pro-gun advocate.

The bottom line: A diverse group of citizens are arguing that government is abusing its power by depriving their liberty and endangering their safety at the same time. Were this a case about "wiretapping" by the Bush administration, the plight of the aggrieved here might get more ink. Not so when the case at hand is a gun ban that the Washington Post itself has repeatedly endorsed in its editorial pages.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters