Court Rules DC On The Hook For Results Of Overturned Gun Law

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The District of Columbia had some pretty tough gun control laws at one time. However, thanks to some court rulings, much of that has been tamed. It’s still not firearm-friendly by any stretch of the imagination, but for residents, it’s a little better than it was.

However, the overturned gun laws still caused people problems, particularly those who weren’t actually from DC.

Now, a court has ruled DC is on the hook for those arrests.

A federal judge on Wednesday found that the District of Columbia is liable for wrongfully arresting six people accused of violating its laws on carrying handguns in public.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued his opinion in a putative class-action case brought by six plaintiffs, four nonresidents and two residents of D.C., who allege they were wrongfully arrested under a combination of D.C. gun laws.

The plaintiffs argued that the combination of three gun laws in D.C. made it impossible for individuals to carry guns for the purposes of self-defense.

In his 19-page opinion, Lamberth acknowledged D.C.’s argument that there is no constitutional right to carry a firearm without requiring any permit whatsoever.

However, he wrote that that D.C. “misses the mark” with this argument, saying the District failed to support the idea that the plaintiffs would have been protected from arrest had they attempted “futile actions” like trying to obtain D.C. gun registration.

“The District fails to address the key, undisputed fact in this case. There were no actions that the plaintiffs could have taken during the time period in question that would have allowed them to carry a gun for self-defense in the District of Columbia,” wrote Lamberth.

“In sum, plaintiffs were arrested, detained, and had their guns seized under a gun control regime that completely banned carrying handguns in public. That fact is undisputed,” he added.

In essence, because DC banned pretty much everyone from carrying handguns in public, they can’t play the claim that folks were doing so without a permit.

Makes sense to me.

The right to keep and bear arms is sacrosanct in the Constitution via the Second Amendment. It’s about as clearly written as it could possibly be. By denying everyone the right to keep and bear arms, DC so blatantly overstepped its authority that such arrests were essentially voided.

Had DC had a permitting scheme in place and people simply failed to make use of it, that might have been one thing. It wasn’t though.

Frankly, this is a great ruling, one that I suspect won’t be appealed out of fear that the Supreme Court would further lower the boom on the district as well as other jurisdictions. After all, that’s why they didn’t appeal when the courts ruled they had to basically become a shall-issue domain.

That one tickled me, but this amuses me almost as much.

Now, those people who were unconstitutionally arrested can demand the return of their firearms or, if the gun can’t be returned, compensation for the value of that gun. I suspect DC is going to have to start paying out a whole lot of money in the near future.

But hey, when you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. That applies not just to individuals, but city governments as well, apparently, and it’s glorious.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET