D.C.'s Evolving Gun Laws


The D.C. City Council continues its herky-jerky reactions to the Supreme Court's Heller decision overturning its ban on usable guns in the home. Back in September, it finally gave in and obeyed the spirit of the Supreme Court decision and finally allowed even semiautomatic handguns to be registered, and even loaded.

Yesterday, as the Washington Post reports, the D.C. Council gave

preliminary approval to legislation that would require gun owners to renew their registrations every three years and to notify police annually whether they still own guns.

These sort of niggling restrictions on the right to have weapons in the home strike Alan Gura, the lawyer who successfully argued Heller before the Court, as similarly open to legal challenge. He

said requiring repeated registration will bring the city more legal problems. "None of this is going to reduce crime, but it is going to increase litigation," said Gura, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case. "While I have not studied the bill, requiring people to register and re-register every year is harassment."

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said he had not seen the legislation. Still, he said, "if the mayor and the city counsel continue to defy the United States Supreme Court, the National Rifle Association will seek a remedy either by legal or legislative means."

"What they are trying to do is to make it difficult as possible for law-abiding people to own a firearm."

To what extent complicated or demanding registration processes impinge on the Second Amendmend right declared in Heller will doubtless be a topic in many future lawsuits–and already is in ongoing suits against Chicago, which requires yearly re-registration, and makes a given weapon eternally unregisterable if you miss a re-reg deadline.

My book on the Heller case and gun control, Gun Control on Trial, is in my hands and should be shipping from Amazon and in stores any ol' day now. For the impatient, an excerpt from it is in the December reason.