Get in On The Ground Floor of the Next D.C. Gun Lawsuit


D.C.'s City Council continues its constantly shifting reaction to the Supreme Court's Heller decision that overturned its gun ban. (See here and here for some of their post-Heller scramblings.) This week, they vote to enforce "safety training" before a gun can be legally registered in D.C. D.C.'s City Paper with the details. The key part for the future:

At the last council meeting, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh had proposed the measure as an amendment to the bill governing the regulation of handguns. Since then, the mayor's office raised concerns about the possibility that such a requirement, shared with very few other jurisdictions, would attract new litigation from the gun-rights crowd. Phil Mendelson, the at-large councilmember who chairs the judiciary and public safety committee and has taken the lead on writing the city's new gun laws, agreed with that assessment and opposed Cheh's amendment.

Cheh tried again this week, and won with a 10-3 vote. Mendelson, who rightfully fears a lawsuit, was one of the three. The extent to which the now-Supremes certified right to own handguns in the home can be circumscribed by these sort of safety regulations will be the subject of many suits in the future–especially when/if the incorporation question (that is, does Heller apply to states and localities?) is settled. This move by the D.C. Council will doubtless trigger one of the more important such suits.

For aaaaall the background on this, see my new book on the Heller case and gun control, Gun Control on Trial.

NEXT: Well, He Had Ignored the Unspoken Warning

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  1. sadly, safety training probably passes muster – at least under Heller.

  2. Hi. I’ll be your intructor today. Now the golden rule in weapons safety training is this:
    Don’t draw first blood. Or else bring a lot of body bags.

  3. In other news, Congress has passed a law requiring citizens to pass a public speaking course before they can exercise their right to free speech.

  4. Mister DNA,

    Hmmmmm . . . you may be onto something. I’m sick of hearing stupid people come up to my bar and ask “What’s good?”. I’m thinking “Motherfucker! I’m not a goddamn mindreader! What am I? A carni fortune teller? Everything I make is good fuckhead!” while my actual response is something like “Michelob Ultra is great here.”

  5. I think the DC city council has a hard time being told no.

  6. Good point, Mr. DNA. I’m trying to come up with a good parallel between this and prior restraint. Anyone? Bueller?

    I think the DC city council has a hard time being told no. Right you are, Warty. And petulantly so. This is a clear case of massive resistance by city council to the clear rulings of the courts.

    In my fantasy world when (not if) this is overturned, the judge will issue bench warrants for all of city council and force them to listen to him read his opinion in open court, followed by a stern lecture for Mary Cheh.

    I realize this has the same chance of happening as my dream date with Jack Radcliffe.

  7. “Petulantly” referred to DC City Council, not Warty.

  8. Well, I’m pretty fucking petulant sometimes.

  9. “Michelob Ultra is great here.”

    You’re either the worst bartender or the greatest comic genius of our time.

  10. or i am missing a pop culture reference

  11. sadly, safety training probably passes muster – at least under Heller.

    I’m sure it will. I don’t understand the reverence that so many give Heller. Sure, they got the One Big Issue right, but in doing so they went out of their way to gut the Second Amendment.

    As we will see in the follow-on cases, which will approve restriction after restriction, all following the blueprint laid out by the Court in Heller.

  12. This “training” requirement would only make sense if the permits issued were CARRY permits

  13. I totally agree with R C Dean.

    I bet Heller will become a common tool for justifying anti-gun legislation. At least until SCOTUS figures out how many obstacles it takes to reach an infringement.

  14. This quote from Councilwoman Mary Cheh pretty much puts this whole fuckwitterey into perspective:

    “No constitutional right is absolute, nor is this right to possess a gun in the home for self defense.”

    ( )

  15. Kolohe,

    I’m not a comic genius though I do have a very dry sense of humor. “Michelob Ultra is great here” is as close as I can usually get to telling people to fuck off with their stupid inducements to make something special “just for them”. I just wanna snap sometimes and tell people “Hey! You know what the fuck you drink goddamnit!!! So you want something new along clearly established guidelines or not?”. Though I have told people to fuck off before. The trick is to smile when you say it so all surveilance can say is “Well the guy is smiling so he most likely didn’t say anything negative”. I LOVE my job.

  16. Mandatory training to merely possess a firearm in one’s home?

    Intolerable. The DC council simply cannot cease to obfuscate the 2A.

    In my mind, training of this nature is reasonable only provided such training is militia-related and required of each and every able-bodied, law-abiding person, and that it be provided at no cost to the person.

  17. The council is on record as favoring training, screening and repeated background checks to exercise a civil right.

    I wonder how they would respond to the similar requirements on DC residents before they were alowed to vote? How about a fee to renew your voters card every three years? And the renewal would be conditional on passing a written civics test and proof that the applicant is a citizen of the United States.

    Get with the program folks, SCOTUS has ruled that the Second Ammendment protects a civil right, on par with the other civil rights. You cannot restrict my right to own a firearm without opening yourself up to similar restrictions on all of the other civil rights including your right to vote.

  18. Mary Cheh is a law professor who teaches Constitutional law at GW. IIRC, her ConLaw exam was largely multiple choice. Discuss.

  19. Hmmm. Maybe competency training before one is allowed to use a public urinal? It would be too bad if one mistook the DC council chamber for a urinal…

  20. DDS , you beat me to it. The best comparison would be to Literacy tests for voting.

    As fo r Heller being a great decision, No it is not. But it appears to have been written to seduce that crucial 5th vote. A declaration that was as absolute as I would have liked, would be great to see, but not as a minority opinion. It also looks like some of the dicta was designed to invite future refinement of the bounderies of the right. If we had a Constitutionalist President who would appoint the correct judges, the right to bear arms would grow as the 1st Amendment has. Instead we are stuck with one who will appoint those who will whittle away at it as much as they can. We just got a foothold, not a victory. Get in the fight.

  21. The Second Amendment is a right, not a priviledge. Permit to own a handgun? Don’t think so!

    Ask permission to defend myself or my home? You must be out of your mind!

    Yes, the DC council is on track to get sued again. The DC anti gun laws for the last 30 years have been proven to be a joke. How many more innocent people must get murdered, before the DC council gets rid of these ignorant gun laws. You allow criminals to carry firearms, but restrict law abibing citizens.

    Mary, if this is what a law degree does to your mind, I’m certainly glad I don’t have a law degree!

  22. I don’t agree with the Washington DC council. They need to back off and let the people protect themselves in their homes with whatever weapon they decide they need. They need to prosecute the criminal element that uses weapons against law abiding citizens

  23. I would not mind giving up my firearm if ALL shipping containers and all other means of cargo transfer were able to be checked and deemed to not contain any illegal firearms or other fake or counterfeit items. By the way for any college students here don’t forget about

  24. It is unreasonable to require any training for self-defense in ones’ car or home. It is, however, reasonable for concealed carry permits or licenses. Also, the recent denial of registration for an older citizen is illegal and unconstitutional. Because someone is 70 or 80 years old does NOT mean they cannot defend their life in their home. These stupid, illogical laws are the reasons, among others, that citizens belong to the NRA, SAF, RKBA, GCO and other gun groups. There are well meaning fools who try to effectively disarm law-abiding people, and leave the criminals armed to the teeth. It is no wonder, many of these so-called leaders and politicians believe the U.S. Constitution is a freely editable (“living”)document, at will, and subject to ignoring parts with which they disagree. Such is the case with D.C. lawmakers. They encourage litigation and it becomes necessary for them to follow the ruling and orders of the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. v Heller. D.C.’s position seems to be NO HANDGUNS, come Heller high water.

  25. Curtis41: what is reasonable about requiring a law-abiding, non-felon, U. S. citizen to obtain “government” permission to exercise a Constitutionally affirmed (with the agreement of the U. S. Supreme Court) fundamental civil Right? This would be the same as requiring “government” permission to go to church, or write a letter to the editor. These asinine “gun control” laws have not only been a complete and abysmal failure, they have directly caused the deaths of thousands of disarmed innocent citizens. Politicians such as those on the D. C. city council have innocent blood dripping in pools from their hands. Also, has no one on the D. C. council ever heard of the 14th Amendment? What about their sworn Oath of Office to defend the Rights of the People? Seems to me that we should not tell the council “no”. We should to the council GO! (And maybe, To Hell!)

  26. When I recently reviewed an NRA archieve clip on a DC Councilmeeting about their gun ban legislation, one of the “holier than thou members” was telling the audience that the Council was going to tell Congress that they could not tell them what to do as far as gun legislation. DC just doesn’t get it do they? It’s not the Congress stupid it’s the 2A. I don’t think DC has citizens anymore—they’re “subjects”.

  27. The tactics of Fenty and the DC City Council reek of despotism and contempt for the courts along with the civil rights they are charged with protecting and sworn to defend. Their legislative mischief making is nothing less than trecherous obstructionism, reminescent of tactics contrived in Jim Crow days to keep blacks from registering to vote. If these officials cannot be constrained through petition and/or litigation they must be confronted with courage and commitment. We may well need to follow the example of Dr. MLK in staging demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience. The most dangerous thing DC residents can do here is nothing!

  28. What amazes me about the District of Columbia is that all the City Council has to do is to Enact Gun Laws Parrelling the Commonwealth of Virginia. As doing so would help the City economically by encouraging the Middle Class Demographic who buy’ firearms to move into, besides working in the District to Reside there as well drastically increasing a taxable income base and reduceing the rush hour commute as well. I lived in Northern Virginia and I can attest that DC is Beautiful place that I would move to if it wasn’t for such Strict Gunlaws, keeping me away.

  29. What I’d like to see happen is for the Supreme Court to find the DC council in contempt of court and to have Federal Marshalls throw the whole lot in jail! I can see the headlines now; “Next Weeks Council Meeting Moved to Cell Block B.”

  30. Amen Mark—and not only them—try this from Pittsberg. (and they are far from alone in ‘public servants’ acting defiant of the law.)

    “Some Council members said they realize the measure may be illegal, but feel they must do something to address a rash of recent gun violence in the city.”

  31. In the case of Pittsburg (apologies for previous spelling) they may very well be found in contempt of court because it is my understanding that in settlement of a previous case they signed an agreement to abide by the gun laws of Pennsylvania.

  32. Comgress need to enact the law taking away any DC authority to regulate guns in DC. DC is unable to abide by the Heller decision and will try every roadblck it can think of.

    Current DC law encourages residents to not register a weapon but just have it in home. That is not hard and the number of residents that have registereed is so low that it is obvious that is what is happening.

  33. When public officials who are sworn to uphold the highest law of the land, the U.S. Constitution and the personal freedoms it guarantees American citizens, patently, brazenly, and consistantly pas laws to OPPOSE it and GET AWAY WITH IT, as the D.C. City Council has for twenty years, then surely disaster lurks in the future for this country.

  34. As did the Greeks democracy before us and as our democracy continues to implode on itself, the best thing we can do is teach our children to shot straight. The politically correctness, anti 2nd amendment, etc. movements will possibly lead us to a people vs the Feds shootout in order for us to retain our constitutional rights, be it voting, guns, oil exploration, religion or whatever. We the people are complacent and GIVING AWAY our rights. Remember The Alamo, Ruby Ridge and Waco. Praise God, but keep your powder dry!

  35. Amen Ken—for real–I expect the main attack to be against ammo—lead bans and ammo serialization designed to make it prohibitively expensive. He wont take your guns away–or your SUV. It will just be too expensive to use them.

  36. I look back at all of the laws that are supposed to protect the public from harm and I realize one thing. They are all aimed at a full and complete transfer of power from the people to the government.

    We are a Country governed by the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law is written by the people for the people.

    The core problem is that there are not enough “people” only sheeple.

    What we need is a subtle nudge to our government. Write your Senators and tell them what you think of the job they are doing on at least three issues, that is if you are a People, sheeple don’t have a clue as to what their Senator is doing.

  37. If my fellow citizens on the DC City Council may ignore the rulings of the Supreme Court then I have every right to do the same.

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