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Handgun Owners Miffed at D.C. Regulations

WASHINGTON (CN) - A gun advocacy group wants the District of the Columbia to drop regulations requiring citizens to prove that their lives are in danger before they are allowed to own a pistol.

The Second Amendment Foundation and gun owners Brian Wrenn, Joshua Akery and Tyler Whidby sued the district and Police Chief Cathy Lanier on Feb. 3 in Federal Court, claiming that the district's requirements violate the Second Amendment.

The lawsuit takes aim at the district's attempt to salvage its stiff gun control regulations that took a hit after the U.S. Supreme Court determined that DC's 33-year-old handgun ban was unconstitutional in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller.

After the decision, the district adopted emergency legislation requiring licenses to own a handgun in the city. To get a license, would-be gun owners must prove that their lives are in danger or that their line of work involves inherent risks.

"Defendant Lanier will not issue a concealed handgun carry permit to any applicant who lacks either 'Good Reason' or 'Other Proper Reason' for seeking a permit," the complaint states. "Ordinary citizens who are otherwise fully qualified to obtain concealed handgun carry permits from defendant Lanier cannot obtain such permits if they fail to disclose on their application either a 'Good Reason' or an 'Other Proper Reason' for seeking a permit."

The group sees the requirements as an extension of the handgun ban, which was born out of a 1975 law, and a violation of the Second Amendment.

"Individuals cannot be required to prove a 'good reason' or 'other proper reason' for the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. The right to bear arms is enjoyed by the general community of law-abiding, responsible adults, who are presumptively entitled - as the concept of a 'right' is understood in the United States of America - to carry handguns for the purpose of self-defense without needing to prove any special reason for doing so, such as '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 [one's] life," the complaint states.

Wrenn, Akery and Whidby each claim to be legal gun owners in other states, but say they were denied their right to own a firearm for the purpose of self-defense because the district said they could not give a good reason to own a gun.

They say other gun owners are not applying for licenses because they know it's a futile exercise.

They seek an injunction preventing the district from denying handgun permit applications through the adopted restrictions.

They are represented by Alan Gura, with Gura Possessky, in Alexandria, Va.

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