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Federal Judge: D.C. Gun Carry Ban Unconstitutional

Federal Judge: D.C. Gun Carry Ban Unconstitutional

On July 26, 2014, a landmark decision by a federal judge in the District of Columbia (D.C.) struck down the Capitol's ban on carrying firearms outside the home.

Judge Frederick J. Sculin Jr. referenced the Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) when ruling on Palmer v. District of Columbia, which has remained in court system for the past five years.

In 2009, D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier denied Plaintiff Tom G. Palmer's handgun registration application on the grounds that he intended to use the handgun for protection outside his home. Palmer's application was subsequently approved for home-defense purposes only. Four plaintiffs including Palmer and the Second Amendment Foundation then filed a suit against the city.

Judge Sculin effectively restored the right-to-carry outside the home in D.C. when he concluded, "there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny."


Serving as a milestone for gun rights, the ruling essentially orders the nation's capitol to allow residents and non-residents to carry firearms in public for self-defense.


Judge Sculin went on to declare that his court, "enjoins defendants from enforcing the home limitation of [D.C. firearms laws] unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms."

Though the decision immediately overrides D.C.'s handgun ban, it is expected the case will also reach the United States Court of Appeals, where overrule is unlikely due to the supporting precedents established by similar court judgments.

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