Federal Judge Shoots Down D.C. Ban On Carrying Firearms Outside Of The Home

210px-flag_of_washington_dcsvg220px-CriminologygunglockUnited States District Court Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. has finally handed down a ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia overturned the city’s total ban on residents on carrying firearms outside their home. The litigants repeatedly went to court to try to force Scullin to rule during the five year wait for a decision. They probably now feel it was worth the wait. The court held the D.C. law was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The D.C. Attorney General’s Office and city council has continued to resist the rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) and have spent copious amounts of money and time defending this law. The city could have drafted more tailored laws but seemed intent to re-fight aspects of its historic loss in Heller. The Office of Attorney General continues to dig a deeper hole both legally and financially for the citizens in such litigation.

D.C. Code § 7-2502.01(a) provides that “no persons or organization in the District shall possess or control any firearm, unless the persons or organization holds a valid registration certificate for the firearm.” However, D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) provides that individuals who are not retired police officers may only register a handgun “for use in self-defense within that person’s home.”

The court held:

Thus, having concluded that carrying a handgun outside the home for self-defense comes within the meaning of “bear[ing] Arms” under the Second Amendment, the Court must now ask whether the District of Columbia’s total ban on the carrying of handguns within the District “infringes” that right.

This question is not difficult to answer. As the Seventh Circuit stated in Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012), “[a] blanket prohibition on carrying gun[s] in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home; and so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof that it would.” Id. at 940. This does not mean that the government cannot place some reasonable restrictions on carrying of handguns; for example, “when a state bans guns merely in particular places, such as public schools, a person can preserve an undiminished right of self-defense by not entering those places; since that’s a lesser burden, the state doesn’t need to prove so strong a need.” Id. The District of Columbia appears to be the only jurisdiction that still has such a complete ban on the carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home. That does not mean that other jurisdictions are indifferent to the dangers that the widespread public carrying of guns; rather, those jurisdictions “have decided that a proper balance between the interest in self-defense and the dangers created by carrying guns in public is to limit the right to carry a gun to responsible persons rather than to ban public carriage altogether[.]” Id. at 940. In addition, to “the usual prohibitions of gun ownership by children, felons, illegal aliens, lunatics, and in sensitive places such as public schools, the propriety of which was not questioned in Heller . . . some states sensibly require that an applicant for a handgun permit establish his competence in handling firearms.” Id. at 940-41 (internal parenthetical omitted). Some states “also permit private businesses and other private institutions (such as churches) to ban guns from their premises.” Id. at 941.

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional.

The case is Palmer v. Fjs Dist. of Columbia & Cathy Lanier, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101945

Here is the decision: Palmer

28 thoughts on “Federal Judge Shoots Down D.C. Ban On Carrying Firearms Outside Of The Home”

  1. John,

    Respectfully –
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

    Everson v. Board of Education (NJ)
    SCOTUS defines a clear wall between Government and Religion
    This is altogether fitting, especially for me, a Proud Christian, because I firmly believe that when you invite religion into government, you invite government into religion.
    Government screws the pooch on virtually everything – I don’t want them having ANYTHING to do with my worship – period.

    Thus the Ten Commandments are completely irrelevant to any legal issue.

    The Constitution however is.

  2. I live in the safest in the state. We do not go walking around with ak47s. Obviously D.C. lacks any good genius, and that rotten tooth of an area will continue to ache with or without these weapons of mass destruction.

  3. The comment above by G. Mason, quoting JFK is very good, very appropriate for Second Amendment discussions. Today we need a nation of minute men. And minute maids as well. Right On!

  4. “Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.
    The cause of liberty, the cause of American, cannot succeed with any lesser effort.”
    – President John F. Kennedy

  5. As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.
    — Tench Coxe (1755–1824), writing as “A Pennsylvanian,” in “Remarks On The First Part Of The Amendments To The Federal Constitution,” in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, p. 2 col. 1

  6. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    “You shall not murder”

    Above is sample language that even a judge can actually understand. Americans can have guns and Jews and Christians can’t murder (babies in the womb included). It’s kinda like saying to get the tax credits, people have to use state ACA exchanges.

    Damn! It must be really tough to be a judge. It’s so hard to read English. I guess it depends on what the definition of the word is is.

    What’s gonna happen when the staff finds out that

    the inmates have taken over the asylum?


    Ten Commandments

    You shall have no other gods before Me.
    You shall not make idols.
    You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    Honor your father and your mother.
    You shall not murder.
    You shall not commit adultery.
    You shall not steal.
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
    You shall not covet.

    1. John – think you need to retool the Ten Commandments. My version is somewhat different than yours. This may be a modern translation, which I am not fond of.

Comments are closed.