Gun-Rights Advocates Challenge Provisions Of New D.C. Gun Law

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the handgun ban in Washington, D.C., has again taken the District to court, this time to poke holes in a law passed July 16 to correct the problems of the original gun ban.

     The high court’s June 26 ruling upheld Dick Heller’s Second Amendment right to carry handguns, prompting the Council of the District of Columbia to remedy the unconstitutional gun ban with the Firearms Control Emergency Amendment Act of 2008. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed it into law on July 16.
     Heller, along with Absalom Jordan Jr. and Amy McVey, claim the new law also contains unconstitutional restrictions on their right to bear arms. It does away with the ban on handguns, but bars anyone from registering a machine gun, defined as a gun designed to shoot, or can be readily converted to shoot, “automatically, more than 1 shot by a single function of the trigger” or “semiautomatically, more than 12 shots without manual reloading.”
     Under this definition, ordinary handguns and other semiautomatic firearms are considered “machine guns” banned from registration, the plaintiffs claim, because they are “designed to shoot, or can be readily converted or restored to shoot” more than 12 shots, even if the shooter has no ammunition-feeding device allowing him to do so.
     “The overwhelming majority of handguns possessed in the United States are semiautomatic handguns, and the Supreme Court in Heller held that handguns as a class are constitutionally protected,” the lawsuit states.
     “As a consequence of the above, virtually the only type of handgun the District will allow to be registered is the revolver.”
     The plaintiffs also take aim at the undefined fee for registering pistols, claiming the amount should not be left to the “boundless discretion of the Chief of Police.”
     Finally, the plaintiffs challenge a provision requiring gun owners to keep their home firearms unloaded, disassembled, or locked up, except “while it is being used to protect against a reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person within the registrant’s home.”
     Such a provision unduly burdens the gun owner, plaintiffs claim, because an unloaded, dissembled or locked gun is useless for immediate self defense.
     Plaintiffs seek injunctions and a writ of mandamus allowing them to register semiautomatic handguns, avoid undefined pistol-registration fees, and keep unfettered guns in their homes.
     They are represented by Stephen Halbrook and Richard Gardiner of Fairfax, Va.

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