Lock and load. Here we go again.
Dick Heller, the D.C. security guard who successfully challenged the District’s near-total ban on handgun ownership in a case that reached the Supreme Court, filed suit Monday seeking to strike-down the city’s re-tailored gun law.
This was no surprise. In fact, District officials such as Mayor Adrian Fenty practically dared Heller, along wiht his lawyers, to do it. Fenty and the city council decided to let the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in District of Columbia v. Heller restrict them as loosely as possible in redrawing the law.
In June, the court ruled 5-4 that the Second Amendment granted Americans the right to own a handgun for self-defense in the home. Beyond that, the opinion penned by Justice Antonin Scalia said little about the breadth of the constitutional right.
Still, a close reading of the opinion seemed to suggest that at the very least, D.C. could not prevent a resident from having a handgun at the ready.
The District, however, decided to test how far the courts were going to go. Its re-tooled statute permitted only the ownership of a revolver, and even it must be unloaded, disassembled or trigger-locked in the home unless there is a threat of “immediate harm” in the home. Officials also vowed to bureaucratize the gun registration process as much as possible, making it time-consuming and paperwork-intensive. (And anyone who has lived in the District can tell you that that usually happens with any D.C. office, regardless of intent.)
Heller is joined in his new federal lawsuit by two other District residents, Absalom F. Jordan, Jr. and Amy McVey. Jordan complains that the registrations procedures are a burden on his constiutional rights, while McVey owns a .22 semiautomatic handgun that remains illegal under D.C. law.
Meanwhile, a bevy of lawsuits have been filed in cities like Chicago, trying to apply the court’s Second Amendment ruling to states and municipalities. Because the District is a federal entity, right now the decision is only effective here.