Federal Court Strikes Down Parts Of DC's Gun Registration Laws

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 18, 2015 2:55 PM
Federal Court Strikes Down Parts Of DC's Gun Registration Laws

Today gun owners in the District of Columbia won a partial victory over the city’s stringent gun registration laws. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit noted that the city has the right to establish a gun registry, but tossed some provisions, specifically re-registration requirements (via the Hill):

In a 2-1 decision Friday, a three-member panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the city’s requirements that force gun owners to register long guns, get fingerprinted, photographed and appear in person when registering a gun, pay a registration fee and complete a firearms safety and training course.

The court then struck down four requirements that force gun owners to bring the gun they’re registering with them, re-register a firearm every three years and pass a test on D.C. gun laws. The court also did away with a rule that prohibits gun owners from registering more than one pistol within a 30-day period.

“We agree with Heller that the District has not offered substantial evidence from which one could draw a reasonable conclusion that the challenged requirements will protect police officers; but we think the District has pointed to substantial evidence that some of the requirements — but not others — will promote public safety,” Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote in the opinion of the court.

Dick Heller, who is responsible for the 2008 landmark D.C. v. Heller decision, which struck down D.C.’s handgun ban, and stated that a citizen has a right to own a handgun regardless if they’re part of a “well-regulated militia,” brought this current case before the court.

Before the Heller case was decided, prior to 2008, the only handguns allowed in Washington D.C. were those that were registered prior to 1975. It also was limited in that this applied to federal territory. In 2010, McDonald v. Chicago, another landmark case, expanded Heller’s decision into the states, saying that Second Amendment rights are to be respected under the due process clause.

While not a total victory, it’s progress. Who thought D.C. would have an ordinance that establishes some form of carry law 20 years ago? It’s take years, but D.C.’s laws that banned carrying firearms outside of one’s home was declared unconstitutional. The city council’s new law establishing carry right, which included a justifiable need clause for obtaining a permit, was also ruled unconstitutional. The city is now in legal limbo on how to move forward. Now, there’s’ a slight chip in the registration laws. This is a good start. In every part of the country, there is some law honoring the carrying of firearms in public. That’s a good thing.