Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

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

The nation's capital, long infamous for its strict gun control, is now one step closer to being forced to comply with the Second Amendment. On Saturday, July 26, 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 decision prohibits D.C. officials from enforcing certain provisions of local law that interfere with the constitutional right to bear arms outside the home.

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. 

For a brief period of time, the MPD, acting on the advice of the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, had suspended enforcement of the laws enjoined by the court’s opinion. Pictures emerged of individuals who took advantage of this opportunity to exercise their right publicly to carry firearms in D.C.

By Monday, however, District officials had petitioned the court to withhold the effect of its decision pending appeal, or in the alternative, for 180 days to allow the D.C. Council to enact new regulations to comply with the opinion. The plaintiffs agreed to a more limited delay of 90 days, and on Tuesday the court issued an order staying the effect of its decision for 90 days to allow D.C. to revisit its laws and to allow the plaintiffs to file arguments against a longer stay pending appeal. The court’s Tuesday order effectively reinstates the status quo that existed before its Saturday ruling, meaning that D.C.’s laws against carrying firearms in public can continue to be enforced.

Whether the District will seek further review of the court's decision remains to be seen. District officials have 30 days in which to appeal the case.  We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

TRENDING NOW
New Hampshire Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Into Law

News  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Hampshire Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Into Law

Measure Effective Immediately. Today was a great victory for gun owners in New Hampshire when Gov. Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12 into law, allowing law-abiding New Hampshirites to carry their firearms in the manner that ...

Kentucky: Senate Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Amended

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kentucky: Senate Constitutional/Permitless Carry Legislation Amended

Today, Senator Robin Webb (D-18) offered a strike and insert amendment to constitutional/permitless carry legislation, Senate Bill 7.

North Dakota: Important Self-Defense Bills Pass House

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

North Dakota: Important Self-Defense Bills Pass House

Today, February 21, two important pro-gun bills passed the House of Representatives.  House Bill 1169, the constitutional/permitless carry bill, passed the House with a 83-9 vote and House Bill 1310, the school carry bill, passed ...

New Mexico: Beware of "Fake News" Regarding HB 50!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Mexico: Beware of "Fake News" Regarding HB 50!

Late last week, instead of voting on House Bill 50, the New Mexico House referred the bill back to the House Judiciary Committee.

NRA-Backed Resolution to Stop Obama Attack on State Wildlife Management Passes House

News  

Hunting  

Friday, February 17, 2017

NRA-Backed Resolution to Stop Obama Attack on State Wildlife Management Passes House

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 69, a measure that would use the Congressional Review Act to repeal an Obama-era rule passed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to preempt ...

New Hampshire: Governor Sununu Signs Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Into Law!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Hampshire: Governor Sununu Signs Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Into Law!

Today, in a private signing ceremony, Governor Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12 into law.  Similar legislation had been vetoed by former Governor Maggie Hassan for two years in a row, but thanks to your active involvement, ...

Massachusetts: Legislation Introduced to Challenge AG Healey’s Gun Ban

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Massachusetts: Legislation Introduced to Challenge AG Healey’s Gun Ban

The Massachusetts General Court’s 2017 legislative session is in full swing with the introduction of numerous pro- and anti-gun bills.  Among the pro-gun bills are Senate Docket 1157 and Senate Docket 1889.  Both SD 1157 ...

California DOJ Withdraws “Assault Weapon” Regulations

Monday, February 13, 2017

California DOJ Withdraws “Assault Weapon” Regulations

As previously reported, after the California Department of Justice submitted regulations regarding newly classified “assault weapons” to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) for publication in the California Code of Regulations (CCR), NRA and California ...

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ignores Heller: No Protection for Guns It Deems “Dangerous”

News  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ignores Heller: No Protection for Guns It Deems “Dangerous”

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinions in Heller and McDonald, many of the lower U.S. courts have been making up their own rules when it comes to the Second Amendment. Tuesday’s outrageous opinion by ...

Senate Votes to Block Obama Social Security Administration Gun Ban; Legislation Heads to President Trump

News  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Senate Votes to Block Obama Social Security Administration Gun Ban; Legislation Heads to President Trump

On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 in favor of H.J.Res.40, which would block the implementation of an Obama-era rule under which the Social Security Administration (SSA) would report the names of tens of ...

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.