Can I Carry a Handgun in DC?

 

UPDATE: A federal judge today issued a 90-day stay on his decision to invalidate Washington DC’s long-time ban on handguns.

The stay was issued after DC police and city officials asked for more time to respond to the federal court’s decision, which was handed down Saturday by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. The DC Attorney General promptly filed for a stay pending an appeal, or at least to give elected officials time to revise the city’s gun laws. In the filing, the District of Columbia’s attorneys said the lead attorney for the plaintiffs did not object to a 90-day delay as long as the DC Council was working to enact new legislation. In his order issued today, Scullin said he would give the council until Oct. 22 to decide if and how to revamp current laws in a way that would be “consistent with the court’s ruling.”

As previously reported on this blog yesterday, the federal judge’s ruling this weekend stated that the Second Amendment gives people the right to carry guns outside of the home for self-defense and that the District of Columbia’s existing ban was a clear violation of that constitutional right.

The suit that prompted the ruling was originally filed in 2009. In their filing, the complainants argued their Second Amendment rights were being violated by DC’s gun laws, which were amended following a 2008 Supreme Court decision that struck down a total ban on carrying ready-to-use handguns in public, because they could not get a permit under the current law to legally carry a firearm in public.

Prior to the 2008 ruling, a total handgun ban had been in place for 32 years. After the 2008 ruling, the law required residents to register their guns and keep them in their homes. Gun owners were also required to take a safety class, be photographed and fingerprinted, and re-register their weapons every three years. Those requirements were challenged in May, but were upheld by a federal judge.

Judge Scullin’s decision cited the 2008 court case as well as a 2010 ruling involving Chicago’s handgun ban. As a result of Saturday’s ruling, DC police officers were initially instructed not to enforce laws prohibiting the carrying of guns in public as long as they were registered.

In answer to the question posed in the title of this blog, one can assume that DC’s ban on guns in public applies as long as the stay remains in place. Therefore, those of you with registered weapons would be wise to refrain from carrying your gun in public in the District of Columbia, at least until the matter is settled in October. In the meantime, city officials, and many others, will have to work out answers to a number of legal questions prompted by the ruling. This includes whether or not the elimination of the handgun ban would grants people the right to carry handguns on the National Mall or at the White House, or in the vicinity of a presidential motorcade or similar event.

Jason Kalafat defense attorney is a dedicated criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience protecting the rights of the accused in the District of Columbia. If you are facing gun charges in DC, contact his office today for a free case evaluation.