The Fight for DC’s Handgun Ban

On September 4, Washington, D.C. announced that it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the May 2007 federal appellate court decision striking down the city’s handgun ban as unconstitutional. The case was originally brought to trial by 6 D.C. residents challenging the city’s gun control regulations, demanding the right to keep firearms in their homes for protection.

The D.C. Firearms Control Regulation Act of 1975 prohibits the sale or ownership of firearms in the District; the ban also mandates a strict permit system and the disassembly of all firearms in homes. The city contends that the ban does not violate the Second Amendment; it claims that the right to bear arms, originally intended for the creation of militias, does not apply to private citizens. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the laws unconstitutional. The dissenting Judge, Karen Henderson, argued that because the District is not a state, the Second Amendment does not apply to its regulations.

The appeal would be the first case the U.S. Supreme Court has heard regarding the Second Amendment (Fastcase subscription required) in more than 70 years.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, a Republican from Texas, argues:

Not only is Washington, D.C.‘s gun ban unconstitutional, but it also has been a public policy failure as seen in the rise in crime since its enactment. The time has finally come to change course.”

However, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has said that he strongly supports the ban, stating that the city will continue to strictly enforce the laws and work for tighter gun control. Cities with similar regulations around the country anxiously await the decision, which could strike down diverse statutes such as California ban on machine guns and Chicago’s comprehensive handgun ban.

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