D.C. Handgun Ban » Key Dates  |   Gun Legislation in the U.S. By State

Correction to This Article
A timeline on D.C. gun laws with a March 11 Metro article incorrectly said that an appellate court panel recently reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. The appellate ruling, issued March 9, overturned a decision by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and struck down parts of the city┬┐s gun law.

A History of Gun Control

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

The District's gun law is among the strictest in the nation, and it has been under attack since it took effect. Here are some key dates:

June 1976-- Eighteen months after Congress established home rule for the District, the D.C. Council votes 12 to 1 in favor of a bill restricting city residents from acquiring handguns. The law exempts guards, police officers and owners who had registered their handguns before it took effect. Under the bill, all firearms (including rifles and shotguns, which were not restricted by the law) must be kept unloaded and disassembled, except those in business establishments.

September 1976-- Attempts in Congress to block the District law fail, clearing the way for it to go into effect.

July 1977-- The D.C. Council exempts private security firms from the gun bill and removes a requirement that gun owners take vision and gun law tests.

June 1999-- A House bill carrying an amendment that would have allowed "law-abiding citizens" to own and carry guns in the District is defeated.

February 2003-- Six D.C. residents sue the city, in a case known as Parker v. the District of Columbia, arguing that the gun law illegally prevents them from keeping guns in their homes.

April 2003-- Five other D.C. residents, including longtime activist Sandra Seegars, file a separate suit, Seegars v. Ashcroft, against the federal and city governments, saying they have a right to bear arms.

July 2003-- Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) introduces a measure to end the District's ban on carrying handguns and keeping them in the home. The legislation would also ease registration requirements for firearms and ammunition. It later dies in committee.

January 2004-- U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton dismisses the Seegars suit.

March 2004-- U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan dismisses the Parker suit.

September 2004-- The House votes 250 to 171 to roll back most of the District's gun laws, but the Senate fails to take up the measure before Congress recesses.

February 2005-- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholds the ruling against Seegars, finding that she and other plaintiffs lacked legal standing.

November 2005-- Congress approves the District's 2006 budget, leaving out a provision that would have prevented the city from enforcing the requirement that guns in homes be kept unloaded and disassembled. The House for the second year in a row votes overwhelmingly in favor of the restriction, but the language is removed in conference before the final passage.

March 2007-- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturns Walton's decision in the Parker case, finding that one of the plaintiffs has legal standing because he applied for and was denied a registration certificate to own a handgun. The court finds that the D.C. law illegally bars guns in homes. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) says the city will appeal.

-- Meg Smith


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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