A group of District of Columbia residents filed a lawsuit in 2003 against the government over the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which banned handguns unless registered before 1976. Owners had to keep their guns unloaded and disassembled in their homes.
The Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller in 2008 that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was an individual right tied to the natural right of self-defense, striking down the handgun ban. The D.C. City Council tried to restrict law-abiding residents even after this decision by requiring them to show a “good reason” to carry handguns. A federal court struck down this restriction.
Lead plaintiff Dick Heller, a police officer, is back in court as the lead plaintiff in another lawsuit. Defendants are the city, the U.S. Attorney General, and the police department. Plaintiffs have asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief against city ordinances that ban the manufacturing of homemade firearms and “ghost guns.” In the complaint (PDF), the plaintiffs summarize the district’s opposition to the Second Amendment and attempts to restrict handguns.
Heller ordered a kit to make a 9 mm and complied with the city’s requirement to register the firearm. He directed the parts maker to ship the kit to a licensed federal firearms dealer. The police department told the dealer not to register the kit and to return it to the vendor. The other plaintiffs allege that this restriction has rendered their own homemade guns illegal.
The ability to self-manufacture arms has always been part of the Second Amendment right, as well as American history and tradition. Although federal law now requires a license to engage in the business of manufacture of firearms, federal law has never prohibited a person from making his or her own firearm. The vast majority of states place few or no restrictions on self-made firearms.
The plaintiffs said that under Heller, the district can’t prohibit the manufacture of a “Constitutionally protected item” and asked the court to declare that the laws violate the Second and the Fifth Amendments.
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