D.C.’s Latest Gun Limits Still Go Too Far

     (CN) – The D.C. Circuit on Friday struck down a requirement for gun owners to reregister every three years, upholding part of the latest challenge by Dick Heller.
     It was Heller, a D.C. special police officer, who years earlier who took on the district’s tough handgun ban under the Second Amendment.
     Though his initial challenge led the Supreme Court to strike down D.C.’s ban as unconstitutional, dealing a major setback to gun-control efforts across the country, Heller’s subsequent complaints largely failed as D.C. refined its regulations.
     D.C.’s rejiggered law, dubbed the Firearms Registration Amendment, banned both assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and required anyone registering a gun to be photographed and fingerprinted, pass a background check and list a current residence and place of employment for the past five years.
     A divided three-judge panel with the D.C. Circuit affirmed six of the law’s provisions Friday, but vacated four others.
     As to the requirement that gun owners reregister their firearm every three years, the court said the district has no reason to place this burden on citizens when the law already requires gun owners to report if their weapon has been lost or stolen.
     Whereas the district has good reason to require that gun owners pass a safety test, a test covering local gun laws lacks similar grounding, the majority found.
     “None of the district’s experts … offers any reason to believe that knowledge of the district’s gun laws will promote public safety,” the 28-page opinion states.
     Judge Douglas Ginsberg, the author of the majority ruling, likewise tossed D.C.’s attempt to limit gun owners to registering no more than one pistol per month.
     The majority did, however, affirm the registration requirement for long guns, which includes fingerprinting and photographing the gun’s owner.
     Ginsberg said “Heller offered no evidence distinguishing the basic registration requirement as applied to long guns,” which already applies to pistols.
     Meanwhile, “the district has presented substantial evidence from which it could conclude that fingerprinting and photographing each person registering a gun promotes public safety by facilitating identification of a gun’s owner, both at the time of registration and upon any subsequent police check of the gun’s registration,” according to the ruling.
     Judge Karen Henderson wrote in dissent that she would uphold all of D.C.’s gun regulations.
     “Heller has ‘hand[ed] our democratic destiny to the courts’ by inviting litigants to draw them into this political thicket,” Henderson said. “Happily, the ‘dominoes’ have not fallen as quickly as expected, as most of our sister circuits have afforded a healthy level of deference to the law-makers. But today I fear the majority has initiated a retreat – at least in part – from the practice of restraint.”

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