A federal judge who struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on carrying handguns outside the home has stopped his ruling from going into effect for about three months so city lawmakers can respond with new legislation.
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin on July 29 stayed his ruling from going into effect until Oct. 22.
In a ruling that became public on July 26, Scullin struck down the city’s ban. He wrote that the Second Amendment gives people the right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense.
“There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” wrote Scullin, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and is a retired Army colonel.
The group that had brought the lawsuit against the city did not oppose a 90-day stay. Lawyers for the city want Scullin to stay the ruling while they appeal, but he will not rule on that request until at least August.
The city rewrote its rules after the 2008 Supreme Court decision. Residents were required to register their guns and keep them in their homes. Gun owners also have to take a safety class, be photographed and fingerprinted and re-register their weapons every three years. Those requirements were challenged in court but upheld by a federal judge in May.
Earlier this month, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, successfully added an amendment to a bill that would block the District from spending any money to enforce local gun laws. Massie has conceded his amendment is unlikely to get through the Senate and become law.
The lawsuit before Scullin was filed in 2009 by the Washington state-based Second Amendment Foundation and three District of Columbia residents and a New Hampshire resident who said they wanted to carry guns for protection.
Alan Gura, the lawyer who represents the group challenging the ban and who won the 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court cases, said July 27 he was very pleased.
Ted Gest, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, which defended the city’s ban, said the city was “studying the opinion and won’t comment on its substance.”