Stay Granted in D.C. Gun Ban Case

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's once again illegal to carry a handgun outside a home in the District, after the city's longstanding ban has gone back and forth, and back again, all in a matter of a few days.

    A federal judge granted the District of Columbia's request to stay his decision on overturning the city's ban on carrying handguns.

    Saturday, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. ruled the city's ban on carrying handguns outside the home was unconstitutional. Two days later, the District filed a motion asking the court to delay implementation of its ruling so the city can either appeal or create new licensing laws. The stay delays implementation of Scullin's ruling for 90 days.

    D.C. police cautioned officers that some gun owners may not have heard about Tuesday' ruling.

    In a 19-page ruling made public Saturday, Scullin concluded that the Second Amendment gives people the right to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense.

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    The District of Columbia has filed a court motion to keep its gun ban, until an appeal can be filed or new licensing can begin. News4's Mark Segraves reports.

    The lawsuit challenging the city's ban on carrying handguns outside the home was filed in 2009 by three District of Columbia residents, a New Hampshire resident and the Washington state-based Second Amendment Foundation. It came shortly after the city rewrote its gun laws following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the city's 32-year-old ban on handguns in 2008.

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    [DC] Reaction To DC Gun Ban Ruling
    A federal judge ruled Saturday that DC's ban on carrying guns outside the home is unconstitutional. Derrick Ward has reaction.

    New rules allowed residents to keep guns in their homes but required that they be registered. Gun owners now have to take a safety class, be photographed and fingerprinted, and re-register their weapons every three years. Those requirements have also been challenged in court but were upheld by a federal judge in May. 

    "I don't think there's any other sensitive place in the nation than the District of Columbia and that has to be taken into consideration," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said.

    In finding the city's ban on carrying handguns outside the home unconstitutional, Scullin cited two U.S. Supreme Court cases, including the 2008 case that struck down the city's handgun ban and a 2010 case involving Chicago's handgun ban.

    Scullin, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and is a former Army colonel, wrote that following those decisions, "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."

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    Despite a judge's ruling, questions remain about what DC will do to craft a new gun law. News4's Derrick Ward reports.

    Alan Gura, the lawyer who represents the group challenging the ban, said Sunday he was "very pleased with the decision."

    Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of OpenCarry.org, told News4's Mark Segraves, "We are looking forward to [testifying] before the DC city council as they move forward to craft a [constitutionally] permissible scheme of gun regulation. We think that this scheme should look like most states, providing for a 'shall issue' form of concealed handgun permit, and no permit required to open carry properly holstered handguns."

    But D.C. Councilmember David Cantania (At-Large) said he's "deeply troubled" by the ruling.

    "Having more guns on our streets does not make us safer and a rushed roll back of our laws will only result in confusion and create additional challenges for law enforcement in the District," Cantania said in a statement issued Monday.

    D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, who also serves as the chair for the commitee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, called the ruling "a terrible decision."

    "We will have to review and work with the attorney general to determine what steps need to be taken next and to see if we should appeal the decision," Wells told News4.

    Ted Gest, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, which defended the city's ban, said the city is studying the opinion and its options.

    Those include appealing the judge's ruling but also asking the judge to stop his ruling from going into effect during any appeal.