D.C.'s Draconian Gun Laws Struck Down

photo from nraila.org.

While the nation's capital city waits for a review and decision from a federal appeals court on the constitutionality of its recently revamped concealed-carry law, gun rights won a victory in Washington D.C. on another front last week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 on Friday that the city cannot require gun owners to re-register a gun every three years, make a gun available for inspection, or pass a test about firearms laws.

The decision was made on the case of Heller v. District of Columbia (Heller III), which challenged numerous aspects of the District's gun laws. The rules have been pretty strict: Applicants for firearm registration included a requirement for applicants to appear at police headquarters to be fingerprinted, photographed, and to submit their registration paperwork, a requirement that registrants bring their firearms into police headquarters, a required passage on a test on D.C. law, and a prohibition on the same person registering more than one handgun during any 30-day period, according to a post from nraila.org.

Applicants still have to be fingerprinted and photographed, but the rest has gone out the window, thanks to the court's ruling.

District officials took the position that the restrictions had the purpose of "protecting police officers" and that they promoted public safety. The appeals court found that "the District has not offered substantial evidence from which on could draw a reasonable conclusion that the challenged requirements will protect police officers…"

The court determined that police are trained to respond to every in-progress crime from the position that a weapon could be present, regardless of what the gun registry says, if they actually check it, which the court found they often don't.

The court rejected the idea that the number of firearms lawfully present in a home is a valid argument for gun control, saying, "Accepting that as true, it does not justify restricting an individual's undoubted constitutional right to keep arms (plural) in his or her home, whether for self-defense or hunting or just collecting, because, taken to its logical conclusion, that reasoning would justify a total ban on firearms kept in the home."

The NRA-ILA writes, "This may be one of the most significant aspects of the decision, as discouraging lawful gun ownership has been the cornerstone of D.C.'s approach to gun control."

The court also determined other aspects of the law simply weren't safe, like requiring applicants to bring their guns into police headquarters, and that all the items stricken from the books "offended the Second Amendment and are unenforceable."