Washington, D.C. Second Amendment Rights Expanding Under the Heller Decision

July 2017 - Concealed Carry Victory - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled that the District government must grant handgun carry licenses to D.C. residents on the same basis that carry permits are issued in most states. In particular, D.C. may not limit carry permits only to persons who prove a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” Instead, D.C. must follow the standard American system: issuing permits to adults who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class.


2008 (Heller decision) — Supreme Court strikes down the D.C. handgun ban and the D.C. ban on having any functional firearm in the home. In the course of litigation, D.C. had promised that if the handgun ban were struck, then it would issue plaintiff Dick Heller a license to carry in his own home. Thus, the court stated, “We therefore assume that petitioners’ issuance of a license will satisfy respondent’s prayer for relief and do not address the licensing requirement.”

2008 (post-Heller) — The D.C. Council repeals its handgun ban and enacts a new handgun registration ordinance. Once a handgun has been lawfully registered, no permission is needed to carry it inside the home. There is no provision for licensed carry outside the home.

2009-2016 — In response to public criticism (e.g., Emily Miller’s book “Emily Gets Her Gun”) and litigation, the D.C. gun registration statute and its application are improved, from being dysfunctional to instead being exceptionally strict, but mostly functional. Meanwhile, new litigation, led by Heller‘s victorious attorney Alan Gura, engages the right to carry outside the home. In 2014, the D.C. law making it impossible to obtain a permit to carry outside the home is held unconstitutional. (Similar to an Illinois statute that was held unconstitutional by the 7th Circuit in 2012.)

Full Article: Washington Post, July 25, 2017


The Heller Decision National Impact

The Century Old Debate, Finally Settled
DC v. Heller (2008) - The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. 

Heller Applied to the States
McDonald v. Chicago (2010) - Found that the right of an individual to "keep and bear arms" as protected under the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states. The decision cleared up the uncertainty left in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller as to the scope of gun rights in regard to the states.

U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Shooting Range Ban Unconstitutional
Ezell v. City of Chicago 1 (2011) - The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the city of Chicago's ban on gun ranges was unconstitutional. Decision Link

Second Amendment Extends to All Instruments that Constitute Bearable Arms
Caetano v. Massachusetts (2016) - The Court has held that “the Second Amendment ex- tends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amend- ment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010).