Gun rights advocates say a federal judge’s ruling striking down D.C.’s ban on carrying handguns in public should not be put on hold beyond the current 90-day delay.
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. last week gave plaintiffs until today to argue why he should not further extend the stay on his July 26 ruling, which found the city’s gun law unconstitutional. Scullin already put the ruling on hold for about three months so officials could rewrite the law or seek an appeal, but the government wants additional time.
In a 17-page court filing, Alan Gura, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said officials have not even decided yet whether to appeal the ruling, and discounted the city’s claim that the District deserves special legal consideration because of its status as home to the center of the federal government.
“None of the District’s allegedly unique features justify erasing the Second Amendment wholesale throughout the entire city,” Gura wrote. “Government facilities, Presidents, ‘historically important sites,’ and ‘thousands of visiting dignitaries and foreign officials’ and various foreign consulates and missions may be found throughout the United States.”
“Of course Defendants may prohibit the carrying of handguns in ‘government buildings’ and other ‘sensitive places’ . . . but that does not mean that they might prohibit carrying guns in a city containing government buildings,” plaintiffs argued.
In giving the D.C. Council until Oct. 22 to decide whether to enact new legislation, Scullin cautioned that he was not inclined to issue a longer stay pending appeal, writing: “The court is not convinced that defendants will be able to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits to warrant such a stay.”
A response from D.C.’s attorney general, Irvin B. Nathan, is due next Monday.
The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by the Second Amendment Foundation and Tom Palmer, a plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 decision declaring that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own firearms.