Washington, D.C. Circuit Court Strikes Down 30‐​Year Old D.C. Gun Ban

“We conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

March 9, 2007 • News Releases

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WASHINGTON — In a ground‐​breaking opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today overturned the D.C. gun ban, a three‐​decade old prohibition on possession of firearms within the Nation’s Capital. Senior Judge Lawrence H. Silberman, joined by Judge Thomas B. Griffith, a recent Bush appointee, concluded that “the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.” Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson filed a dissenting opinion.

The case, Parker v. District of Columbia, was brought by six D.C. residents – including Cato senior fellow Tom Palmer — who sought to keep functional firearms in their homes for self‐​defense. The appellate court reversed a lower D.C. court on all counts, and held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment “are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued intermittent enrollment in the militia.”

Cato senior fellow Robert A. Levy acted as co‐​counsel to the plaintiffs.

Under existing law, no handgun could be registered in the District, and even pistols registered prior to D.C.‘s 1976 ban could not be carried from room to room within a home without a license. The sum result of D.C.‘s myriad firearm codes: no one within the city limits may possess a functional firearm within his or her own home.

For the full opinion, see: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200703/04–7041a.pdf.

The full text of the original complaint, Parker v. District of Columbia, is available at https://​www​.cato​.org/​p​u​b​s​/​l​e​g​a​l​b​r​i​e​f​s​/​g​u​n​s​u​i​t.pdf.

See also: 

Let the Courts Resolve the D.C. Gun Ban,” by Robert Levy

Challenging the D.C. Gun Ban,” by Robert Levy