City Desk

District Asks Judge to Reconsider His Ruling Overturning D.C.’s Ban Carrying Guns in Public

D.C. lawyers are asking a federal judge who overturned the city's ban on carrying handguns in public to reconsider his ruling, arguing that the basis for his original ruling was rooted in questionable legal foundations.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr., a federal judge appointed to preside over the Northern District of New York, ruled that D.C.'s complete ban on carrying handguns in public is unconstitutional. He ultimately said D.C. has until Oct. 22 before the new law goes into effect, giving the city a little time to craft legislation to create a new licensing mechanism that is consistent with his ruling. 

Today, the city is, as expected, hoping the ruling will be scrapped altogether, the Legal Times first reported. In a motion for reconsideration, the city argues that, contrary to Scullin's ruling, the second amendment does not actually guarantee the right to carry a firearm in public.

The Court unnecessarily  determined that the right to carry a handgun in public is at the core of the Second Amendment, and failed to consider both the historical pedigree of prohibitions on public carrying and the District’s important justifications for its prohibition.

The motion also said Scullin did not follow the precedent established by the Heller vs. District of Columbia ruling—a case that made it to the Supreme Court and overturned D.C.'s ban on handguns. The case, however, did not define where these handguns could be carried:

When the parties first briefed this matter, the D.C. Circuit had not yet determined how to  analyze Second Amendment challenges or the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply. Since then, the Circuit—like most other federal circuits—has adopted a two-step approach to determine the Case 1:09-cv-01482-FJS Document 63 Filed 08/25/14 Page 7 of 23-8-constitutionality of a gun law. Heller II, 670 F.3d at 1252.3. That test requires a court first to determine whether a particular regulation infringes on a right protected by the Second Amendment and then, if it does, to determine whether the provision passes constitutional muster under the appropriate level of scrutiny. Id.

The Court purported to apply Heller II’s two-part test, see Order at 10, but abandoned its analysis after the first step.

Judge Scullin's ruling, according to the motion, also failed  to take into account the District's landscape and why a ban on carrying hand guns is not only constitutional, but appropriate.

The District is a city, not a State. Jurisdictions with different conditions should have different gun laws; urban areas should not be governed by standards appropriate for rural
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That the District is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America, attracting  some 15 million visitors a year,16 and is comprised of almost one-fourth federal land further reinforces that the District’s decision to prohibit the public carrying of firearms is substantially related to the important objectives of public safety and crime prevention, given the undisputed need to protect those people and places.

The city has not yet filed an appeal.

The American Lawyer posted the full motion here.

Gun photo by Shutterstock

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