Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Third Time's the Charm: Federal Appeals Court Voids Provisions of D.C. Gun Control in Heller III

Friday, September 18, 2015

Third Time's the Charm: Federal Appeals Court Voids Provisions of D.C. Gun Control in Heller III

Dick Anthony Heller, the lead plaintiff in the historic 2008 Supreme Court case that invalidated D.C.’s handgun ban, has once again successfully challenged D.C.’s oppressive gun control regime. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling in the NRA-supported case of Heller v. District of Columbia (Heller III), bringing further relief to the beleaguered law-abiding gun owners of the nation’s capital. While the court did not totally invalidate D.C.’s onerous registration regime, today’s ruling is an important step in bringing gun ownership within reach to more of D.C.’s upstanding residents.

Following the Supreme Court’s rebuke in the original Heller case, an unrepentant D.C. Council immediately set out to make the lawful keeping and bearing of arms in the District as expensive, time-consuming, and difficult as possible. Intrepid reporter Emily Miller chronicled her own experience negotiating D.C.’s firearm registration process between 2011 and 2012 in a series of reports for the Washington Times that later formed the basis for a book. At the time, registration involved a 17-step process, $465 in fees (not including the price of the gun), five hours of mandatory training that had to be completed outside the District, and multiple trips to D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) headquarters during business hours.

Thanks to a combination of political advocacy, media exposé, and litigation, the hurdles and expense of D.C.’s firearm registration process have been whittled down over the years. Nevertheless, the District has consistently remained one of the most difficult places in the U.S. to acquire a firearm lawfully. The plaintiffs in Heller III challenged numerous aspects of the remaining law, including its application to long guns; the requirement for applicants to appear at police headquarters to be fingerprinted, photographed, and to submit their registration paperwork; the requirement that registrants bring their firearms into police headquarters; the expiration of the registration after three years; various fees; the mandatory training requirements; the requirement of passing a test on D.C. law; and a prohibition on the same person registering more than one handgun during any 30-day period.

District officials attempted to justify these requirements on the basis of “protecting police officers” and “promoting public safety.” Significantly, the court of appeals found that “the District has not offered substantial evidence from which one could draw a reasonable conclusion that the challenged requirements will protect police officers ….”

Citing the testimony the of one of the District’s own witnesses, the court noted that police are trained to account for the possible presence of dangerous weapons in any situation where they might encounter a crime in progress, a domestic dispute, or any other potentially violent environment. This is so, the expert acknowledged, even when responding to calls at locations without registered weapons. In any event, the evidence in the case revealed that MPD officers very rarely even bother to check the firearm registry when responding to a call, conducting an investigation, or executing a search warrant.

The court also determined that several of the challenged registration requirements did not promote public safety, including the requirement that applicants bring the firearms they wish to register to MPD headquarters; the three-year expiration and re-registration requirement; the required test of legal knowledge; and the limitation of registering one handgun per person during any 30 day period.

Accordingly, it held that all of these requirements offended the Second Amendment and are unenforceable.

The court rejected the premise that limiting the number of firearms lawfully present in a home is a valid argument for gun control, even if it could reduce the harm that could be caused by firearms generally. “Accepting that as true,” the court wrote, “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.” 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.

While these developments will bring substantial benefits to those who wish to lawfully own guns in D.C., the court still upheld the balance of the registration procedure. If history is any guide, moreover, the District may seek further review of the court’s decision, or it may simply enact other impediments to firearm ownership, which will require further court testing at taxpayer expense. Thus, while pro-gun advocates should cheer the court’s ruling, it also merely underscores the ongoing necessity of the D.C. Second Amendment Enforcement Act, which would comprehensively reform D.C.’s gun control laws and prohibit future abuses by the D.C. Council.

TRENDING NOW
Canadian Provinces Respond to Federal Gun Confiscation Plea: Pound Sand

News  

Monday, October 3, 2022

Canadian Provinces Respond to Federal Gun Confiscation Plea: Pound Sand

From Canada last week came a heartwarming story of how certain Canadian jurisdictions are responding to the central government’s plea to help it implement its draconian and legally-dubious firearms confiscation scheme.

Manipulated Public Opinion Polling Should Not Drive Public Policy on Guns

News  

Monday, October 3, 2022

Manipulated Public Opinion Polling Should Not Drive Public Policy on Guns

A recent study by the Crime Prevention Research Center underscored how easily public opinion polling can be used to distort, rather than illuminate, peoples’ true feelings on gun control. Policy-makers should take note.

Shipping Companies Prohibit the Lawful Shipping of Firearms

News  

Monday, September 19, 2022

Shipping Companies Prohibit the Lawful Shipping of Firearms

Wondering what federal law says regarding individuals who do not have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) that need to ship firearms? Well, if you go to the website for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ...

More Pushback on Credit Card Surveillance of Firearm Buyers

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

More Pushback on Credit Card Surveillance of Firearm Buyers

As we’ve previously reported, on September 9, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearm retailers. MCCs enable payment processors and banks to categorize, monitor, and collect data on various types of ...

Court Rules Second Amendment Prohibits Federal Pre-Conviction Firearms Ban

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Court Rules Second Amendment Prohibits Federal Pre-Conviction Firearms Ban

Last week, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas ruled that a law which prohibits the acquisition of firearms by someone who is under felony indictment violates the Second Amendment. The decision to ...

Grassroots Spotlight: Meet Georgia Campaign Field Representative Alicia Adams!

Take Action  

Monday, October 3, 2022

Grassroots Spotlight: Meet Georgia Campaign Field Representative Alicia Adams!

When you first meet NRA-ILA’s Campaign Field Representative, Alicia Adams, you notice that she’s the “life of the party”; but when you take a closer look, you see that she loves life and friends, and has a zeal for our nation ...

Illinois Sets the Stage for Possible Unprecedented Crime Wave

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Illinois Sets the Stage for Possible Unprecedented Crime Wave

As part of a criminal justice “reform” effort, the state of Illinois is preparing to unleash the first statewide no-cash bail law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and the ramifications could ...

Hawaii: Honolulu Police Department Considering Firearm Rules Changes

Monday, October 3, 2022

Hawaii: Honolulu Police Department Considering Firearm Rules Changes

Tomorrow, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) will hold a public hearing to consider new proposed Rules governing Firearm Permits and Licenses in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The proposed ...

Beto is lying about guns again

News  

Monday, August 22, 2022

Beto is lying about guns again

Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s position on guns is straightforward. The former New York manny wants to ban and confiscate America’s most popular firearms and further undermine Texans’ Second Amendment rights.

OREGON: Vote NO on Ballot Measure 114!

News  

Thursday, September 15, 2022

OREGON: Vote NO on Ballot Measure 114!

Ballot Measure 114 is the nation’s most extreme gun control Initiative and will be voted on this November! The NRA has launched a website to inform voters why they must VOTE NO on Ballot Measure 114.  It ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

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.