Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Court Declares District of Columbia’s Ban on Bearing Arms Unconstitutional

Monday, July 28, 2014

The nation's capitol, long infamous for its strict gun control, is now one step closer to being forced to comply with the Second Amendment. On Saturday, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Palmer v. District of Columbia, which challenged D.C.'s ban on carrying firearms in public for self-defense. The court's opinion prohibits D.C. officials from enforcing certain provisions of local law that effectively prevent the carrying of firearms in public for self-defense.

D.C.’s former ban on handguns, of course, resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which in 2008 recognized an individual right under the Second Amendment to possess firearms for self-defense. Two years later, the Supreme Court made clear in McDonald v. Chicago that the right recognized in Heller protects individuals from infringement by all levels of government, including federal, state, and local.  

Heller and McDonald, however, only challenged the regulations at issue to the extent they applied to keeping firearms in the home. The Supreme Court did not offer explicit guidance on the degree to which the right to "bear" arms applied to carrying firearms in public places for defensive purposes, because that issue was not squarely before it in those cases. Nevertheless, its characterization of the Second Amendment made judicial recognition of the right to bear arms outside the home all but inevitable.

In recent years, federal appellate courts have yielded to the obvious and recognized that the right to bear arms indeed extends beyond one's front door. Notable decisions have included the NRA-backed cases of Shepard v. Madigan, which arose out of an Illinois ban on carrying in public, and Peruta v. San Diego County, which concerned a local regulation that made California's discretionary licensing system for carry an effective prohibition. These precedents featured prominently in the Palmer court's relatively short, straightforward opinion in that case.   

According to the court's opinion in Palmer, "In light of Heller, McDonald and their progeny, 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." 

Predictably, D.C. officials and other gun control advocates have reacted negatively to the decision and have engaged in the same sort of overheated rhetoric about the supposedly "special" dangers of firearms being present in the District as they did during the Heller case. Of course, none of their dire predictions have come to pass as a result of the Heller decision. As with Heller, nothing in the court's decision on Saturday prevents the enforcement of laws pertaining to the criminal misuse of firearms. In both cases, the challenged restrictions made no attempt to distinguish between people who wanted firearms for legitimate versus criminal purposes. Thus, the decisions benefit only those peaceable individuals who conform their behavior to the law, not violent criminals who ignore the law and exploit the law-abiding tendencies of others to further their own criminal activities.

At this time, much remains unclear about the practical effects of the decision, particularly as regards those who are not D.C. residents with D.C. registered firearms. Besides the provisions that were specifically at issue in the case, D.C. has additional regulations governing the possession of firearms, ammunition, and magazines that apparently remain unaffected and that could easily snare unwary visitors to the District. Media outlets are attributing statements concerning enforcement policy to various D.C. officials, but we have yet to see anything that has been directly and publicly released by those officials to provide the public with guidance. Finally, media reports also indicate D.C. officials are actively seeking a court order that would suspend Saturday's decision pending further appeal, in which case the challenged laws could again be enforceable.

Given these complexities, visitors to D.C. wishing to exercise their Second Amendment rights should also exercise caution, and if in doubt about the legality of any planned action, they should directly contact the D.C. Attorney General's Office or the Metropolitan Police Department for clarification on where things stand.

Whether the District will seek further review of the court's decision remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, D.C. must now join all 50 states in the union in recognizing, at least to some degree, the fundamental right to bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

TRENDING NOW
Mainstream Media Misrepresents NRA's Position on Right-to-Carry Permits

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mainstream Media Misrepresents NRA's Position on Right-to-Carry Permits

There is an ongoing debate as to the severity of the decline in the modern attention span. However, in a world pervaded by 140 character messages and trivial clickbait articles, few would argue that many ...

Steadfast Czechs Fight on Against EU Gun Control

News  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Steadfast Czechs Fight on Against EU Gun Control

The European Union’s new restrictions on firearms ownership were finalized on May 24, when the misguided changes to the European Firearms Directive were published in the political bloc’s Official Journal. Despite this setback, the Czech ...

Nationwide Firearms Turn-in Not Enough for Australia’s Gun Haters

News  

Friday, June 23, 2017

Nationwide Firearms Turn-in Not Enough for Australia’s Gun Haters

On July 1, Australia begins National Firearms Amnesty 2017, the country’s fourth federal firearms buyback (more accurately termed turn-in) or amnesty program since 1987. According to the Australian government, officials hope to capture some of ...

Delaware: Hearing Scheduled for Radical Gun Seizure Legislation

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Delaware: Hearing Scheduled for Radical Gun Seizure Legislation

Tomorrow, the House Administration Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 222.

Goodyear Fires Australian Competitive Shooter over Simple Miscommunication

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Goodyear Fires Australian Competitive Shooter over Simple Miscommunication

In the United States there have been a handful of high-profile incidents in which an employer has terminated an employee following the employee’s use of a gun in self-defense while at the workplace. In recent ...

NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of “Pencils” and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

NJ Court: State Can’t Criminalize Possession of “Pencils” and Other Lawful Objects for Home Self-defense

It is refreshing to finally see some common sense coming out of a court in NJ, as the state is notoriously known for its illogical and Draconian gun laws that do little more than make ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Rhode Island: Last Chance to Stop Anti-Gun Bill

Friday, June 23, 2017

Rhode Island: Last Chance to Stop Anti-Gun Bill

The Rhode Island Legislature is going to be ending their six-month session any day now, and as we approach the finish line, this is the most dangerous time for gun owners.

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

California: Pre-Litigation Letter Sent to DOJ Opposing “Bullet Button Assault Weapon” Regulations

On Monday, June 19, the NRA and CRPA’s legal team submitted a joint-letter to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of Administrative law demanding that the regulations be withdrawn or not approved as the regulations exceed ...

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

News  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rotary Turns 180 Degrees on Restrictive Firearm Policies

In March, we reported on a series of restrictive policies governing firearms that had been approved by the governing body of the well-known networking and service club, Rotary International. This week came a welcome turn ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.