D.C. Appeals to Keep Gun Ban
Monday, April 9, 2007; 4:05 PM
WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia officials warned a federal appeals court Monday that its rejection of the city's handgun ban creates a precedent that could severely limit gun control.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 last month that some of the district's gun control provisions are unconstitutional. The court rejected the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to state militias.
It was the first time a federal appeals court struck down gun control regulations on Second Amendment grounds.
Lawyers for the district argued in a motion Monday that the decision contradicts Supreme Court rulings and the decisions of other federal appeals courts.
If the ruling stands, "it will severely limit the authority of both the District government and Congress to legislate in ways that they believe will best protect citizens and law-enforcement officers from gun violence," the city's lawyers wrote.
The city is seeking a new hearing before all 11 judges of the appeals court.
"We don't blame the city for trying," said Alan Gura, an attorney for the six plaintiffs, residents of high-crime neighborhoods who wanted guns for protection. "The result is not going to change."
Opponents of the ban say it prevents people from taking measures to protect themselves and their families. They say the high crime rates in the three decades that the laws have been on the books prove the restrictions are ineffective.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said losing the restrictions would be a blow to crime-fighting efforts. The city logged 169 homicides last year, down from 196 in 2005.
"More guns very simply lead to more violence," he said outside the courthouse.
Washington and Chicago are the only two major U.S. cities with sweeping handgun bans. The D.C. gun laws remain in effect while the case is being appealed.