Judge Rules D.C. Ban on Handguns in Public Unconstitutional

Citizens protest ban on carrying handguns.
Citizens protest ban on carrying handguns.
(Indy Tribune)

A federal judge issued a ruling on Thursday overturning a District of Columbia ban on carrying handguns in public. In this statement, Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. said, “There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

While the judge’s ruling went into effect immediately, the D.C. attorney general’s office said it would seek a stay until the city decides whether or not to appeal the decision.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier approved an order to her officers instructing them to not arrest citizens carrying handguns. Residents will only be charged under the ban if their weapon is not registered, and those without a felony record are not affected by the law.

Alan Gura, the attorney representing the group against the handgun ban, argues that this decision to allow people to carry handguns for self-defense will reduce crime.

“This is now a decision that the city is required to follow — the idea that the city can prohibit absolutely the exercise of a constitutional right for all people at all times, that was struck down. That’s just not going to fly,” Gura said.

However, Mary M. Cheh, a city council member, pointed out that the ruling was issued by an out-of-state judge who may not be aware of the district’s “special circumstances.”

In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s all-out ban on handguns as a violation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. In 2011, a court of appeals ordered that all handguns had to be registered.

Sources: NPR, Washington Post.

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