On the heels of a recent victory in Heller knocking down the District of Columbia’s ban on residents keeping handguns in their homes, the lawyer responsible for that victory now seeks to expand gun rights further. In a lawsuit filed last week, three D.C. residents ask for the right to carry and conceal weapons in public. The three residents had their gun registration applications rejected when they informed the police that they intended to carry loaded guns outside of their homes. Two of the three residents were also plaintiffs in the previous D.C. gun case. The Bellevue, Washington nonprofit gun-advocacy organization Second Amendment Foundation is also a plaintiff in the suit.
The suit also seeks to extend the right to carry a gun to non-District residents who have gun permits issued elsewhere. According to the lawyer for the plaintiffs, many non-District residents who have gun permits from other jurisdictions are not aware that they cannot bring guns into D.C. and are often arrested for minor violations and then jailed once officers discover their concealed weapons. The suit would force the District to recognize any conceal-and-carry permits issued from other jurisdictions.
Opponents of conceal-and-carry argue that increasing the number of armed citizens on the streets creates a nightmare for law enforcement. This is particularly true in D.C. with the heightened security due to the large number of federal buildings and employees.
Both sides agree that this recent case will test the limits of the Heller decision, and many see the filing of the case as intending to do just that. The Heller decision was grounded on the rationale that a person had a Second Amendment right to keep a handgun in their home for self-protection and was seen by many constitutional scholars as an expansion of Second Amendment jurisprudence. Even in wiping away the Districts previous ban on handguns, Justice Scalia wrote that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” suggesting that the Court would entertain drawing the boundaries of the right to own a weapon for personal protection. The question posed in this current litigation is whether or not the right to own a weapon for personal protection can be extended to the right to carry a concealed, loaded weapon in public for protection as well.
photo courtesy of Kevitivity via Flickr