The Gun Case: Eight Hits

In case I took too many shots at the gun-ban opinion and dissents, let me also share eight sentences that hit the writing bull’s-eye.

The Scalia Opinion

  1. Most evocative use of a single-word sentence

It would be rather like saying “He filled and kicked the bucket” to mean “He filled the bucket and died.” Grotesque.1

  1. Most interesting use of or as a transition word

Or to put the point differently, operative provisions should be given effect as operative provisions, and prologues as prologues.2

  1. Most shrewd echo of a case name

JUSTICE STEVENS presses Presser into service to support his view that the right to bear arms is limited to service in the militia . . . .3

  1. Most clever alcohol reference in a firearms case

It is inconceivable that this law would have been enforced against a person exercising his right to self-defense on New Year’s Day against such drunken hooligans.4

The Stevens and Breyer Dissents

  1. Most elegant stream of one-syllable words

Breyer: But the question here is whether they are strong enough to destroy judicial confidence in the reasonableness of a legislature that rejects them. And that they are not.5

  1. Most effective use of rhetorical questions

Breyer: What would the District’s crime rate have looked like without the ban? Higher? Lower? The same? Experts differ; and we, as judges, cannot say.6

  1. Most compelling use of for as a transition word

Stevens: For if they are to be effective, petitions must involve groups of individuals acting in concert.7

  1. Most creative alternative to the slippery-slope cliché

Stevens: Given the presumption that most citizens are law abiding, and the reality that the need to defend oneself may suddenly arise in a host of locations outside the home, I fear that the District’s policy choice may well be just the first of an unknown number of dominoes to be knocked off the table.8

The Gun Case: Eight Misses


  1. District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290, 2008 WL 2520816, *7
    (U.S. June 26, 2008).
  2. Id. at 4.
  3. Id. at 25.
  4. Id. at 31.
  5. Id. at 65.
  6. Id. at 65.
  7. Id. at 36.
  8. Id. at 51.

Order Point Made

Order Point Taken

Order Deal Struck