To the People

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Appeals Court Strikes Down DC Gun Laws

It is, as of this very moment, legal to own a fully assembled handgun in one's home in DC. The DC Court of Appeals struck down the District's gun laws this morning on Second Amendment grounds. From the decision:
Appellants, six residents of the District, challenge D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4), which generally bars the registration of handguns (with an exception for retired D.C. police officers); D.C. Code § 22-4504, which prohibits carrying a pistol without a license, insofar as that provision would prevent a registrant from moving a gun from one room to another within his or her home; and D.C. Code § 7-2507.02, requiring that all lawfully owned firearms be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device. Shelly Parker, Tracey Ambeau, Tom G. Palmer, and George Lyon want to possess handguns in their respective homes for self-defense. Gillian St. Lawrence owns a registered shotgun, but wishes to keep it assembled and unhindered by a trigger lock or similar device. Finally, Dick Heller, who is a District of Columbia special police officer permitted to carry a handgun on duty as a guard at the Federal Judicial Center, wishes to possess one at his home. Heller applied for and was denied a registration certificate to own a handgun. The District, in refusing his request, explicitly relied on D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4).

Essentially, the appellants claim a right to possess what they describe as “functional firearms,” by which they mean ones that could be “readily accessible to be used effectively when necessary” for self-defense in the home. They are not asserting a right to carry such weapons outside their homes. Nor are they challenging the District’s authority per se to require the registration of firearms.

[Ellipsis]

[J]udicial lenity cannot make up for the unreasonable restriction of a constitutional right. Section 7-2507.02, like the bar on carrying a pistol within the home, amounts to a complete prohibition on the lawful use of handguns for self-defense. As such, we hold it unconstitutional.
Wow. Whole thing here. Note that one of the plaintiffs is this guy.

Thanks to my my ConLaw professor for the tip.

Update: Cato's Tim Lynch has analysis and implications here.

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