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
Rep. Rob Bishop Introduces the "Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act"

News  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Rep. Rob Bishop Introduces the "Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act"

On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced H.R. 2620, the "Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act." This bill would remove ATF's authority to use the ...

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

Second Amendment  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

The Supreme Court of North Dakota confirmed this week that simply possessing a handgun while on one’s own private property cannot support a finding of "disorderly conduct" under the state’s disorderly conduct restraining order law. ...

Concealed Carrying Hits New High, Underscores Need for National Law

News  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Concealed Carrying Hits New High, Underscores Need for National Law

Information collected by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) indicates an unprecedented surge in the number of concealed carry permits, with the largest one-year increase on record occurring between May 2016 and May 2017.

Legislation Reintroduced to Permanently Dismantle Obama-Era Enforcement Abuse

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Legislation Reintroduced to Permanently Dismantle Obama-Era Enforcement Abuse

This week, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) reintroduced the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, a bill aimed at permanently dismantling Operation Choke Point (OCP).  

Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

The House Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1657 by a 7-6 vote.

Abbott Signs Senate Bill 16, Bringing Texas License To Carry Fees Down to Among Lowest in Nation

News  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Abbott Signs Senate Bill 16, Bringing Texas License To Carry Fees Down to Among Lowest in Nation

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today applauded Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for signing into law NRA-backed legislation that will make license to carry fees in Texas among the lowest in the ...

Nevada: Governor Sandoval Signs AB 118!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nevada: Governor Sandoval Signs AB 118!

Today, May 22, Governor Brian Sandoval signed important pro-gun legislation, Assembly Bill 118, into law.  AB 118, sponsored by Assemblyman Skip Daly, will allow members of the military and those who have received an honorable ...

New Zealand Police Mislead Current and Prospective Gun Owners

News  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Zealand Police Mislead Current and Prospective Gun Owners

Back in April, NRA-ILA alerted readers to the results of the New Zealand Parliament Law and Order Committee’s “Inquiry into issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms in New Zealand,” which proposed that a ...

Public Health Researchers Use Common Gun Control Tactic to Mislead on “Children” and Guns

News  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Public Health Researchers Use Common Gun Control Tactic to Mislead on “Children” and Guns

It is one of the most well-worn tactics of those who advocate for gun control. Step one, acquire statistics on firearms injuries among children ages 0-14. Step two, combine these relatively low numbers with the ...

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators Attempting to Get “Assault Weapon” Language into law

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators Attempting to Get “Assault Weapon” Language into law

This week, Senator Antonio Munoz filed Senate Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 556.

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.