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Federal judge strikes down DC gun carry ban

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On July 26, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin invalidated the ban on carrying handguns in public in Washington, D.C. as unconstitutional.

In his opinion for the case Palmer v. District of Columbia, Scullin ordered that “Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of this Memorandum-Decision and Order, are permanently enjoined from enforcing D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) to ban registration of handguns to be carried in public for self-defense by law-abiding citizens...are permanently enjoined from enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a), and...are permanently enjoined from enforcing D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) against individuals based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District of Columbia.” D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) reads, “No person shall carry within the District of Columbia either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, or any deadly or dangerous weapon capable of being so concealed.”

“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. Therefore, the court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional,” wrote Scullin in his opinion.

The case began in 2007 when plaintiff Edward Raymond was stopped in the District of Columbia for speeding and charged for carrying a pistol without a license despite having valid licenses in Florida and Maryland. In 2009, Raymond and plaintiffs Tom Palmer, George Lyon, and Amy McVey applied for handgun permits in the District of Columbia and were denied; in Raymond's case, because he does not reside in the District of Columbia, and in the other cases, because they intended to carry or keep the weapons outside of their homes.

Before 2008, the District of Columbia had a total ban on handgun ownership, which was found to violate the Second Amendment in the U.S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller. An appeals court decision in 2011 upheld a requirement for handguns to be registered.