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Though I haven’t combed through records of all Supreme Court hearings, I think it’s fair to say that yesterday was the first time that the TrueValue Hardware store at 17th and Corcoran Streets NW was mentioned before the country’s highest court.

The context, of course, was the big-news hearing on Heller v. District of Columbia, in which the city’s hyper-restrictive laws on handguns came under a fusillade of skepticism from the Roberts court. At issue, as many justices saw it, was the imperative of self-defense, an imperative that justices appeared to believe was hampered by D.C. law. That law outlaws handgun possession but allows rifles and shotguns—but they have to be “unloaded and either disassembled or bound by a trigger lock.”

And that’s where Chief Justice Roberts tangled with lawyer Walter Dellinger, who rep’d the District in the proceedings:

Roberts: “How many minutes does it take to remove a trigger lock and load a gun? Because both the gun has to be unloaded; it has to have a trigger lock under the District laws.”

Dellinger: “You place a trigger lock on and it has the version I have a few that you can buy them at 17th Street hardware has a code like a three digit code. You turn to the code and you pull it apart. That’s all it takes.”

First of all, not so sure that a trigger-locked, unloaded shotgun or rifle is going to be much use in an emergency.

Second, do they really sell trigger locks at a hardware store deep within the confines of a city with such a Draconian gun law?

Answer: You won’t find them on the shelves. “They’re available special order,” says TrueValue manager Joe Trotter. “We don’t carry them in the store.”

Guess there aren’t a lot of hunters living around Dupont Circle.