D.C. Appeals Court Issues Mixed Decision in ‘Heller III’

2015-09-23_16-31-21Law Shield members may like to know that some onerous gun regulations perpetrated by the District of Columbia against its citizens were struck down by D.C.’s U.S. Court of Appeals — but many others were upheld in a 2-1decision on September 18 in Heller v. D.C.

The positives in the ruling included: 1) the city cannot ban gun owners from registering more than one pistol per month; 2) the city cannot require owners to re-register a gun every three years; 3) the city can’t require gun owners to appear in person to register a gun; and 4) the city can’t require gun owners pass a test about firearms laws.

The negatives in the appeals court ruling included: 1) the city can require that rifles and shotguns be registered along with handguns; 2) the city can require that gun owners be fingerprinted and photographed; 3) the city can require gun owners pay certain fees; and 4) the city can require gun owners complete a firearms safety training course.

Writing for the appeals court majority, Judge Douglas Ginsburg rejected the city’s argument that the one-pistol-per-month rule would reduce illegal trafficking in weapons.

“The suggestion that a gun trafficker would bring fewer guns into the District because he could not register more than one per month there lacks the support of experience and of common sense,” Ginsburg wrote.

District Attorney General Karl Racine may request a hearing before the full appeals court to restore the items that were struck down in the decision.

Our takeaway: The courts seem to be willing to uphold some restrictions on gun owners when public officials claim those rules “enhance public safety,” even when such officials present little proof to support their position. Though Heller III is a win for gun rights in some respects, we worry that some of the court’s findings will cause problems in other cities and states.

Click here to see the decision.