Stay Denied in Dispute|Over D.C. Gun Law

     WASHINGTON (CN) — In a victory for gun control advocates, a federal judge rejected an appeal by gun owners who had sued to overturn D.C.’s strict handgun regulation.
     The District of Columbia District Court ruled April 15 that a gun rights group and three gun owners who sued D.C. over the handgun law failed to justify why their lawsuit should be stayed.
     In 2014, the District adopted a handgun-licensing rule requiring gun owners to prove they have “good reason” for carrying a concealed gun in public. The rule was adopted in response to a previous rule banning handguns outright, which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2008.
     The Second Amendment Foundation and gun owners Brian Wrenn, Joshua Akery and Tyler Whidby filed suit in 2015, seeking an injunction against the law. They were initially granted relief, but the D.C. Circuit lifted an injunction on the District’s handgun permit regulation last June.
     Last month, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled against the gun owners, finding that they failed to show a likelihood of success in their case or that the injunction would be in the public interest.
     Kollar-Kotelly also wrote in her March 7 ruling that the public had a “strong interest” in handgun regulations because of public safety, which likely overrode alleged constitutional violations. She almost wholly sided with arguments that fewer guns equals less gun violence.
     The gun owners filed an appeal to the D.C. Circuit on the constitutionality of the handgun law, as well as an interlocutory appeal to the D.C. District Court seeking to stay the case. They argued that if the D.C. Circuit ruled in their favor — granting a stay on the injunction —then they might drop the case altogether.
     The D.C. Circuit’s decision “will likely be dispositive, one way or another,” Alan Gura, attorney for the plaintiffs, wrote in the interlocutory appeal to the D.C. District Court.
     “Accordingly, it makes no sense to proceed in this court while that appeal is pending,” Gura wrote.
     In her April 15 ruling, Kollar-Kotelly thought otherwise.
     “If it were certain that the D.C. Circuit’s resolution of the interlocutory appeal would resolve this case, then there would be a strong argument for staying the case,” she wrote. “But there is a wide distance between such putative certainty and the actual uncertainty of the impact of the D.C. Circuit’s decision on the merit’s of this case.” (Emphasis in original.)
     In their appeal, the Second Amendment Foundation and the three gun owners also argued that further discovery and expert testimony in the case would be unnecessary because the issue at hand was the constitutionality of the law.
     However, Kollar-Kotelly again ruled against them, writing that they were “simply off base” for claiming expert testimony had no further place in the lawsuit.
     “Clearly, it is not the place of experts to opine on the ultimately legality of the challenged statutory scheme,” the judge wrote. “But that basic proposition is immaterial here because experts can, in the proper circumstances, comment on other matters within their technical expertise that may arise.” (Emphasis in original.)

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