Federal Court Upholds D.C. Handgun Laws

A federal judge on Friday upheld the District of Columbia’s handgun regulations, finding them within Constitutional bounds and declaring public safety to be a compelling governmental interest. From the Washington Post:

“U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina found that the new regulations were crafted to make the streets safer and aren’t so restrictive that they violate the Second Amendment guarantee of a person’s right to own a gun for self-defense.”

The challenge was brought forth last year by Dick A. Heller, the same man who successfully challenged D.C.’s outright ban on handguns in the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller.

In the wake of Heller, the city set to work crafting regulations to ostensibly comply with the ruling. The result was a labyrinthine process that would test the patience of all but the most Job-like. A Washington Post reporter last summer found it took him “$833.69, a total of 15 hours 50 minutes, four trips to the Metropolitan Police Department, two background checks, a set of fingerprints, a five-hour class and a 20-question multiple-choice exam” to legally possess a handgun in Washington D.C.

Oh, and one must travel outside the District to purchase a gun and then pay $125 dollars to have the city’s only licensed firearm dealer transport it for you. And did I mention that registered guns must be kept unloaded and either disassembled or locked with a trigger-lock? If this isn’t an undue burden, one wonders what is.

D.C. officials responded to Friday’s ruling with their typical arguments. D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson said in the Post: “The police remove an awful lot of firearms from the streets every year that are unregistered and owned by criminals, members of gangs and people who rob other folks or shoot other folks. Because law-abiding citizens register their guns, it makes it easier for the police to identify and arrest the criminals.”

Meanwhile, MSNBC reports that D.C. has the highest gun homicide rate in the country – five times the average rate. Obviously, the city government’s compelling interest in safety is producing stellar results.

Heller’s lawyer said it is highly likely his client will appeal the ruling.


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