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Federal Judge Upholds DC’s Latest Gun Laws

(CN) - A federal judge in Washington, D.C., upheld the District of Columbia's latest set of gun regulations, crafted to "cure the constitutional deficits" identified by a landmark Supreme Court decision overturning the district's handgun ban.

The lead plaintiff challenging the restrictions is Dick Anthony Heller, the gun owner whose individual right to keep a gun in his home was restored by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Heller and three others argued that the post-Heller regulations still violated their Second Amendment rights and D.C. code. Specifically, they took aim at three provisions: the registration procedures, the assault weapons ban and the prohibition on large capacity ammunition feeding devices.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said the challenged provisions are both "usual" and "reasonable" under D.C. Code, dismissing as irrelevant the argument that D.C.'s laws are more restrictive than those of some other jurisdictions.

Urbina also pointed out that nothing in Heller guarantees an individual the "unlimited" right to bear arms. The justices said the Second Amendment does not "protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes," and that Heller should not "cast doubt" on longstanding gun regulations, such as laws barring felons or mentally ill people from possessing weapons, or laws banning weapons in sensitive places like schools and government buildings. The Supreme Court also endorsed bans on carrying "dangerous and unusual weapons."

Applying intermediate scrutiny, Judge Urbina said the registration requirements are "substantially related" to the "important government interest" of ensuring public safety. And the bans on assault weapons and ammo-feeding devices fall outside the scope of the Second Amendment, he ruled.

The plaintiffs had argued that requiring a gun owner to pause to reload after firing 10 shots of ammunition rendered the gun "inoperable."

"This argument borders on the absurd," Urbina wrote. Granting summary judgment to the district, the judge deferred to the D.C. Council's findings that such assault weapons and devices fit Heller's definition of "dangerous and unusual."

Heller's attorney, Richard Gardiner, said his clients would appeal.


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