Federal District Court
Strongly Rejects CATO Institute-Backed Challenge to Washington, DC Handgun
Latest Attempt to Overturn 28-Year-Old DC Gun Ban
District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan today dismissed a CATO Institute-backed
lawsuit challenging the constitutionality on Second Amendment grounds
of Washington, DC's ban on the sale and possession of handguns. Judge
Sullivan's ruling in United States v. Parker upholds the ban, which
was adopted by the City Council in 1976. The Violence Policy Center (VPC)
had filed an amicus curie brief in the case.
In entering judgment
for the District, Judge Sullivan wrote: "[T]his Court would be in error
to overlook sixty-five years of unchanged Supreme Court precedent and
the deluge of circuit case law rejecting an individual right to bear arms
not in conjunction with service in the Militia."
In praising Judge
Sullivan's decision, VPC Litigation Director and Legislative Counsel Matt
Nosanchuk states, "The court's decision is a victory for the safety and
security of District residents. A �handguns for all' mentality may rule
inside the CATO Institute, but out in the real world, the last thing District
residents want is more handguns in their communities."
case is the latest decision rejecting challenges to gun laws on Second
Amendment grounds following Attorney General John Ashcroft's reversal
of longstanding Justice Department policy regarding the Second Amendment,
now stating that it protects an individual right to bear arms. Ashcroft's
"individual rights" interpretation has been rejected in more than 100
cases, including federal court of appeals decisions in Chicago, Cincinnati,
and San Francisco.
case is the third strike in recent months against pro-gun forces waging
a high-profile legal and legislative campaign to overturn the DC handgun
ban. In January 2004, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton rejected a near-identical
challenge lodged against the DC law by National Rifle Association lawyers
on behalf of DC Taxicab Commissioner Sandra Seegars. Then in February
2004, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced his intention
to bring an amendment repealing the DC gun ban to the Senate floor. Frist
withdrew his amendment in response to an outcry from local leaders�including
Mayor Anthony Williams, DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey, and Delegate Eleanor
Holmes Norton (D-DC)�as well as gun violence victims and their families.
brief was prepared by Andrew Frey, David Gossett, and Fatima Goss of Mayer,
Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, in Washington, DC.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x117