On September 18, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that four of Washington DC’s gun registration requirements are unconstitutional.
The plaintiff in the case District of Columbia v. Heller was Dick Anthony Heller, who prevailed in 2008 when the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down DC’s gun ban. In that same year, Heller filed suit against DC’s “gun registration scheme”—claiming it was “inconsistent with the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” A district court sided with DC in the case, and Heller appealed.
In the course of the appellate process that followed, “the D.C. Council enacted the Firearms Amendment Act of 2012, D.C., …which repealed certain of the conditions for registration, such as the requirement that a pistol be submitted for ballistic identification as part of the registration process, and reduced the burden upon registrants imposed by other provisions.” But gun registration remained, so Heller augmented his suit to reflect the Firearms Amendment Act while continuing to appeal the decision upholding registration.
The DC Circuit’s ruling makes clear there were many facets to Heller’s case that included various requirements pertaining to registration; these differed between handguns and long guns and the processes related to both. In the end, the court upheld some of the requirements while siding with Heller in rejecting others.
The court upheld “the basic registration requirement as applied to long guns”; “the requirement that a registrant be fingerprinted and photographed and make a personal appearance to register a firearm”; “the requirement that an individual pay certain fees associated with the registration of a firearm”; and “the requirement that registrants complete a firearms safety and training course.”
However, the DC Circuit struck down “the requirement that a person bring with him the firearm to be registered”; “the requirement that a gun owner re-register his firearm every three years”; “the requirement that [makes] registration of a firearm [dependent] upon passing a test of knowledge of the District’s firearms laws”; and the ban on registering “more than one pistol per registrant during any 30-day period.”
The DC Circuit’s decision was handed down in a 2-1 vote by a three-judge panel. DC has yet to decide if they will appeal to SCOTUS.
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