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D.C. Asks Judge To Stay Handgun Ruling, Says Time Needed To Craft Response

Due to Saturday's ruling, it is currently legal to carry a registered handgun outside the home.
Keith Lafaille: http://www.flickr.com/photos/klafaille/6218726857/
Due to Saturday's ruling, it is currently legal to carry a registered handgun outside the home.

D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan today asked for a stay of a weekend ruling that tossed out the city's ban on carrying guns outside the home and prohibited police from enforcing it.

In the request filed this afternoon, Nathan asked that the ruling be stayed immediately so that the city could file an appeal. Alternatively, he asked for a stay of no less than 180 days "to enable the Council of the District of Columbia to obtain public input and enact a compliant licensing mechanism." At a bare minimum, he pleaded for a 90-day stay, which he said the plaintiffs in the case do not oppose.

The ruling, issued on Saturday by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin, caught city officials by surprise. It found in favor of four plaintiffs who since 2009 had sought to carry handguns outside their homes, and forbade police from enforcing the ban on residents and non-residents alike. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier quickly ordered officers to comply with the ruling, meaning that anyone with a registered gun would be able to carry it outside their home.

In his request, Nathan hinted that Scullin had overstepped in knocking down the ban. "Neither the Supreme Court nor the D.C. Circuit has determined whether or not the Second Amendment extends beyond the home," he wrote. Nathan also called the ruling's prohibition on enforcing the ban "overbroad," saying that it could include weapons above and beyond handguns.

Most importantly, he argued, a stay would allow the D.C. Council — which is on recess until September 15 — to craft a proper legislative response to the ruling.

"The District has had a ban on public carrying in place for decades, and some time is needed to fashion an appropriate response to the Court’s Order, taking into account the current state of the law, public safety, and the manifold other interests at stake in such an important piece of legislation," wrote Nathan.

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the city's blanket ban on handguns was unconstitutional. In May, a federal judge found that the regulations crafted by the D.C. Council in the wake of the decision — which include registration requirements and bans on certain weapons — were constitutional.

Palmer DC Partial Unopposed Motion to Stay


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