The nation’s capital will have to pay after depriving residents of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The D.C. Council banned gun ownership after passing the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, purportedly to decrease the rate of violent crimes. Residents who had registered handguns before 1976 could keep them, but only in the home.
Guns in the home had to be registered and kept unloaded and disassembled or trigger-locked — useless for personal self-defense outside the home and burdensome if a resident inside the home needed to act quickly to protect himself and his family during a break-in.
A group of law-abiding residents took their case to court. The District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case. But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declared the handgun ban unconstitutional and refused to rehear the case.
D.C. appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the ban on owning handguns and the unloaded-disassembled-trigger-locked requirement violated the Constitution.
The court declared that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a militia.
The D.C. Council tried to thwart that ruling. Residents could now own guns, but the Council did not want them to carry guns for personal protection. Residents had to show a “good reason” for obtaining a concealed carry permit.
After a federal court in 2014 ruled this restriction unconstitutional, the Council authorized concealed carry permits.
The right to keep and bear arms is established in the nation’s capital. The people fought for their rights, and courts agreed with them. After a slow process of D.C. recognizing and conceding the rights of individuals to protect themselves inside and outside their homes, it will settle a class action lawsuit.
From the Washington Post:
Those arrested include the lead plaintiff, Maggie Smith, a nurse from North Carolina who was pulled over by D.C. police for a routine traffic stop in June 2014, according to court documents. Smith, who had no criminal record, informed officers her car contained a pistol that was licensed in her home state — for which police promptly arrested her, seizing her gun and taking her to jail, where she stayed overnight.
The judge contended that the plaintiffs had been arrested, jailed, and prosecuted “based on an unconstitutional set of laws.”
The District of Columbia went from a “no issue” to a “may issue” to a “shall issue” concealed-carry permit jurisdiction. The police department “shall issue” permits to law-abiding residents and non-residents, but D.C. does not recognize permits issued in other states.
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