Washington, D.C., gun laws partly upheld by U.S. court

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 18, 2015 1:08 PM

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld some gun restrictions in Washington, D.C., while striking down others, including a requirement that gun owners re-register every three years.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said six of the 10 regulations in question were lawful.

The court was divided 2-1, with one judge, Karen Henderson, saying she would have upheld all 10.

The three-judge panel all agreed that the District of Columbia government could require that long guns be registered, that applicants appear in person, that they be fingerprinted and photographed, and be required to pay a fee. The court also upheld a requirement that applicants complete a firearms safety and training course.

But a two-judge majority struck down the requirement that gun owners re-apply every three years. Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote that none of the governments arguments on that point were "supported by substantial evidence from which the District could reasonably have concluded that requiring re-registration would advance an important government interest."

The court also said the government could not require applicants to pass a test concerning local gun laws or prevent people from registering more than one pistol during a 30-day period.

The court struck down another requirement that people bring their firearms with them when they register.

In dissent, Judge Henderson criticized the majority for only partially showing the "proper deference to the District in its ongoing efforts to formulate a workable firearms policy for our nation's capital."

The challenge to the laws was brought by Dick Heller, a District of Columbia resident who was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case in 2008 that overturned the city's law that banned handguns.

The landmark ruling said that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to keep and bear arms, applies to individuals and allows them to use guns for lawful purposes such as self-defense in the home.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)