Lawsuit Claims Gun Rules Violate Supreme Court Ruling

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 28, 2008; 12:37 PM

The man who successfully challenged the D.C. handgun ban before the Supreme Court filed a new federal lawsuit this morning, alleging that the District's new gun regulations are unlawful and burdensome.

Dick A. Heller and two other plaintiffs alleged in the lawsuit that the D.C. government violated the letter and the spirit of the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down the District's decades-old handgun ban.

Saying that the new regulations illegally prohibit ownership of semi-automatic pistols and require an arbitrary fee, the lawsuit also claimed that the law established requirements that would make it impossible for people to defend themselves in their homes.

The new regulations require handgun owners to keep the weapons unloaded and either disassembled or secured by a trigger lock at home -- rules that flout the recent Supreme Court decision, said Heller's attorney, Stephen P. Halbrook.

"Under the D.C. [law], a robber has to make an appointment with you so you can get your gun ready for him," Halbrook said in an interview.

No court date has been set. Heller registered a revolver with the District on July 18. He wanted to register a semi-automatic Colt, but he was denied a license because D.C. police said they considered the weapon to be a machine gun, the suit alleged.

Under the D.C. law, semi-automatic pistols capable of shooting more than 12 shots without reloading are considered machine guns. The suit said such a definition "is contrary to the ordinary usage of those terms in the English language and in the laws of the United States."

D.C. officials were not immediately available for comment.

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