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Lanier clarifies rules for carrying guns in D.C.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier has issued guidance following the Palmer ruling striking down the District's ban on citizens carrying handguns.
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Addressing Metropolitan Police Department members, Chief Cathy L. Lanier “issued additional guidance ...in light of the Palmer versus D.C. ruling regarding possession of firearms,” the Office of Communications announced Monday in a press release. The directives follow a ruling filed Saturday in the United States District Court, District of Columbia, striking down the District’s ban on carrying of firearms by citizens in the nation’s capitol.

Included with today’s release was an official teletype intended “to assist members in making immediate enforcement decisions” pending resolution of legal issues.

This guidance document follows an “impact” teletype issued Sunday.

“Effective immediately, pursuant to the decision in Palmer ... and the directive of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, members of the Metropolitan Police Department shall not enforce D.C. Official Code ... until further notice,” that directive instructed.

It also provided three sample scenarios, the first noting a D.C. resident carrying an unregistered firearm should be so charged, the second noting a Vermont resident with no criminal record would be free to leave (with the potential for further investigation), and the third instructing a Virginia resident with felony convictions should be arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm.

“In addition, members of the Firearms Registration Section are prohibited from refusing registration of handguns solely on the basis that the objective of the applicant is to carry the handgun in public for self-defense,” the impact statement cautioned.

The additional guidance issued today notes “the ruling applies only to handguns,” noting it is still illegal for citizen to carry long guns or shotguns. Importantly, it noted “possession of a firearm outside the home or business in and of itself MAY NOT be criminal,” but that District residents may only possess legally registered firearms.

It also provides 24-hour guidance, so that any member with enforcement questions can call legal staff for advice.

Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman, who has provided coverage with exclusive information from the Second Amendment Foundation, a plaintiff in the Palmer case, noted Friday some of the broad implications the decision could have. He followed that analysis up today noting the District’s notoriously anti-gun officials are moving quickly to stall the ruling, with attorneys for the city filing a request for “a 180-day stay to either appeal, or to craft new licensing laws’ that presumably will allow for some type of carry in the District.”

This correspondent participated in a round table discussion Sunday evening on the nationally-syndicated Armed American Radio program, where the impacts of the Palmer case and likely direction legal efforts will take were central to the discussion throughout the program. Links to archived recordings of all three hours from last night’s broadcast are provided on the AAR website.

“Huge victory in Washington, D.C.!” host Mark Walters informed AAR listeners. “Alan Gottlieb from the Second Amendment Foundation joins me to discuss the latest court decision in our favor. Dr. John Lott follows up Alan’s appearance with discussion of the case.”

Further developments will be forthcoming, but for now, the city appears to be catching its breath after a rapid weekend response.

“The legal team ... continues to work on additional clarifications from the ruling, and in the meantime has asked that we not comment further,” today’s news release concluded.

UPDATE:

Per The Washington Times, "A federal judge on Tuesday granted a 90-day stay in a ruling that upended the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public."

The defendant motion and filed order mention "180 days." Why there is a seeming discrepancy,may be explained by the notation that"... plaintiffs do not oppose a 90-day stay -- starting immediately..."

Unclear at this time is what effect this will have on MPD responding to citizens carrying guns in the interim. They stated in yesterday's press release that further comments must be vetted by the legal team.

UPDATE:

Here's the order specifying 90 days.