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Court of Appeals Declines to Rehear Heller III, Reinforces Pro-Gun Victory

Friday, February 26, 2016

Court of Appeals Declines to Rehear Heller III, Reinforces Pro-Gun Victory

Last year, we reported that a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held in the long-running follow-up to the original Heller case (known currently as Heller III), that certain provisions of D.C.’s firearm registration scheme violate the Second Amendment. These included D.C.’s handgun rationing rule, its requirement to renew firearm registrations every three years, a required test of “legal knowledge” for registration applicants, and the requirement that registration applicants present their firearms in person at police headquarters. As we noted at the time, however, the District still had options for further review of the decision.

Today, one of those options has been foreclosed, with the decision that the full appellate court will not rehear the panel’s ruling, leaving the initial ruling fully intact. While this development does not necessarily mean the legal wrangling in the case is over, it does reinforce a significant pro-gun victory the courts.

Interestingly, Cathy Lanier, Chief of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and long-time collaborator in its anti-gun efforts, went off her usual script last fall when talking to Anderson Cooper on CBS’s 60 Minutes. To the shock of all concerned, Lanier provided the following advice on survival against an active shooter: “Your options are run, hide, or fight," she told Cooper. “If you're in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it's the best option for saving lives before police can get there." She also noted that most deaths in these situations occur in the first 10 minutes, while even the fastest police response times can take up to seven minutes. While she didn’t explicitly encourage private residents to arm themselves (as her colleagues in law enforcement recently have been), her comments seem to underscore the legitimacy (and, indeed, the necessity) of self-defense 

Does this signal a change in course by the District in its antagonism toward the Second Amendment? Have the nearly eight years since the original Heller decision – which have shown no tendency by criminals to abide by D.C.’s registration law and no trend of law-abiding people turning into criminals after lawfully obtaining a gun – finally validated the pro-gun viewpoint? 

Don’t count on D.C.’s bureaucrats to think so. Shortly after Lanier spoke to Cooper, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser weighed in with her own opinion: “I don’t like guns,” she said to raucous applause at a news conference. Another D.C. official suggested that if residents felt a need to defend themselves, they should use baseball bats.

In Washington, D.C., that really says it all. The esthetics of the District’s elite trump empirical evidence concerning the safety and protections of its residents. That’s why your NRA continues to support pro-gun litigation in D.C., as well as 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. If change is going to happen, it won’t come from D.C. officials whose politics and ideology come before the lives of their constituents.

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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.