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Old 03-09-2007, 04:16 PM
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http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...e/4616687.html


March 9, 2007, 3:54PM
Appeals court overturns DC handgun ban

By BRETT ZONGKER
Associated Press

WASHINGTON ? A federal appeals court overturned the District of Columbia's long-standing handgun ban today, rejecting the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges 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."

The court also ruled the D.C. requirement that registered firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled and under trigger lock was unconstitutional.

In 2004, a lower-court judge had told six city residents that they did not have a constitutional right to own handguns. The plaintiffs include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who wanted the guns for protection.

"The district's definition of the militia is just too narrow," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority Friday. "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense."

Judge Karen Henderson dissented, writing that the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because it is not a state.

The Bush administration has endorsed individual gun-ownership rights, but the Supreme Court has never settled the issue.

If the dispute makes it to the high court, it would be the first case in nearly 70 years to address the Second Amendment's scope.

Even as the appeals court overturned the D.C. ban on most handgun ownership, Silberman wrote that the Second Amendment is still "subject to the same sort of reasonable restrictions that have been recognized as limiting, for instance, the First Amendment."

Such restrictions might include gun registration to provide the government with information about how many people would be armed if militia service was required, firearms testing to promote public safety or restrictions on gun ownership for criminals or those deemed mentally ill.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney general's office would not comment on the ruling.


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