Setting up potential appeal, D.C. asks federal judge to reinstate handgun ban

August 25, 2014

Attorneys for the District formally asked U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin on Monday to reconsider his July opinion striking down as unconstitutional the city’s ban on carrying handguns in public.

The District’s attorneys argued that the move, which was anticipated, is a necessary step before the District decides whether to appeal Scullin’s opinion or the judge considers lifting or doubling a 90-day stay, as the District has requested, to give city officials time to enact laws allowing residents with registered handguns to carry them on D.C. streets.

In a 21-page legal filing, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan and aides said that Scullin relied on opinions of “questionable logical and legal foundations” by a minority of courts, and said that no controlling court has found that the right to carry firearms outside the home is at the core of the Second Amendment.

The D.C. attorney general argued that Scullin should at least stay his opinion to allow additional briefing on the District’s defenses for the gun-control law, which is the strictest in the nation.

In 2008, the District appealed and lost a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, which ended the city’s prohibition on keeping handguns in the home.

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Spencer S. Hsu is an investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer finalist and national Emmy award nominee.
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