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New D.C. Gun Laws Make the Grade, Court Says

WASHINGTON (CN) - The D.C. Circuit affirmed the constitutionality of gun regulations adopted by the district to work around a landmark Supreme Court decision that overturned an earlier handgun ban.

D.C.'s latest regulations limit citizens to registering for just one gun every 30 days, and ban assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices.

Dick Heller, who led the charge against the first laws, also spearheaded the challenge against the new regulations.

The Supreme Court struck down a districtwide handgun ban with District of Columbia v. Heller in July 2008, but legislators quickly passed emergency legislation that created new gun regulations in compliance with the high court's decision.

Heller, a D.C. special police officer, appealed after a federal judge upheld the new regulations in March 2010. The appeals court affirmed last week.

"We hold the district had the authority under D.C. law to promulgate the challenged gun laws, and we uphold as constitutional the prohibitions of assault weapons and of large-capacity magazines and some of the registration requirements," Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote for a majority of a three-judge panel.

The 45-page decision remands some of the registration requirements back to District Court "because the record is insufficient to inform our resolutions of the important constitutional issues presented."

In a 52-page dissent, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the Constitution does not distinguish between automatic and semi-automatic guns, and that the city's registration requirements are unusual and unconstitutional.

"In my judgment, both D.C.'s ban on semi-automatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional under Heller," Kavanaugh wrote.

The majority did not agree. "If the Supreme Court truly intended to rule out any form of heightened scrutiny for all Second Amendment cases, then it surely would have said at least something to that effect," Ginsberg wrote.

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