Judge Says DC Can't Ban Carrying Firearms

Surprise weekend ruling by federal judge argues District's anti-carry law doesn't pass constitutional muster.
Judge Says DC Can't Ban Carrying Firearms

In a stunning blow against Washington, D.C.'s, strict firearms laws, a district judge has ruled the city's ban on carrying a firearm outside the home is unconstitutional.

The District remained the last major metropolitan area in the country that banned carrying a firearm outside the home and a challenge to the law was stalled for years as local judges refused to issue a ruling in the case dubbed "Palmer vs. District of Columbia."

But in a surprising July 26 ruling, D.C. Federal District Court Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. referenced a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that said the Second Amendment guaranteed the right to "keep and bear arms," adding the Capital's ban on "bearing" firearms was also unconstitutional.

"In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, 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," Scullin wrote in his opinion. "Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia's complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional."

Scullin also said those visiting Washington, D.C., had the right to carry, though it is still unclear how the city's leaders will react to the weekend ruling. Most experts say the District is likely to ask for a stay of the ruling while an appeal is filed.

The ruling is the latest in a string of judgements against jurisdictions that severely restrict or outright ban carrying a firearm outside the home. In 2012 a federal judge overturned Illinois' carry ban and another judge recently said San Diego, California's, strict criteria for issuing carry licenses was unconstitutional.

"With this decision in Palmer, the nation’s last explicit ban of the right to bear arms has bitten the dust," wrote attorney Alan Gura, who argued the case against D.C.'s carry ban. "Congratulations Americans, your capital is not a constitution-free zone."


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