D.C. Tries to Reinstate Overturned Handgun Ban

Federal judge struck down blanket ban on carrying handguns outside the home in July

A semi-automatic handgun and a holster are displayed at a North Little Rock, Ark., gun shop
Holstered handgun / AP

The District of Columbia asked a federal judge Monday to reconsider his July ruling that overturned D.C.’s ban on possessing handguns in public.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. "failed to conduct the analysis required by controlling law, and relied on flawed, non-controlling decisions from other jurisdictions" when he declared D.C.’s public handgun ban unconstitutional, according to the city’s lawyers.

D.C. lawyers cited the District’s "unique character" as justification for the handgun ban.

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"The District, in addition to being the seat of the federal government and home to the President, is host to thousands of foreign dignitaries each year and the site of many mass demonstrations," the city argues. "The potential for armed mischief is thus perhaps greater in the District of Columbia than in any other American city."

The city also argues the ban does not impede the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

"The Court should find that the District’s prohibition on the public carrying of firearms is constitutional, in that ‘it does not seriously impact a person’s ability to defend himself in the home, the Second Amendment’s core protection," the city argues. "It does not ban the quintessential weapon—the handgun—used for self-defense in the home. Nor does it prevent an individual from keeping a suitable weapon for protection in the home."

Scullin declared D.C.’s blanket ban on carrying guns in public to be unconstitutional in July and gave city officials until Oct. 22 to craft new regulations in line with his ruling. D.C. has also appealed that deadline and asked for more time.

The request for reconsideration is the first step in the city’s likely route to appeal the ruling.

The Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s complete ban on handguns in 2008. Since then, the city has installed a rigorous licensing and registration system for handgun ownership, and it remains illegal to carry a handgun outside of one’s home.