“What the court ultimately said is that people have the right to possess handguns in their home and the state cannot unreasonably interfere with that right,” he said. “I think the District has a good argument that this is not inconsistent with the thrust of the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said even gun manufacturers recommend safe-storage measures and that the city’s revised proposals appear to satisfy the high court’s ruling.
Still, Mr. Helmke said, he would not be surprised by legal challenges.
“It looks like they’ve tried to rewrite their legislation to comply with the court ruling [while] making as few changes as possible,” he said. “It looks like they wrote it in such a way that it should comply with what Justice Scalia said.”
If the 13-member D.C. Council passes the legislation as expected Tuesday, residents would be allowed to register their handguns as early as Wednesday.
“It’s important to remember it’s a 90-day bill because I think we have to address a number of things,” said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the council’s public safety committee.
Mr. Mendelson said he does not think the council will need to reconvene during its summer recess, which begins this week, to address issues with the bill. However, he was not sure whether the public safety committee would need to meet to address any issues.
Under the bill, residents will be allowed to register only one handgun each to prevent the Metropolitan Police Department from being overwhelmed by applications. The limit likely will be removed from the permanent legislation.
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the registration process could take weeks or months and would depend on such factors as whether an applicant is buying a new gun or buying outside of the District.
Chief Lanier also said the department will grant a six-month amnesty to residents who want to register otherwise legal handguns and who have not been able to do so.
The department will conduct the ballistic tests on a gun submitted for registration to determine whether “it is stolen or has been used in a crime,” according to the proposed legislation.
Automatic and semiautomatic handguns remain illegal because they meet the District’s definition of a machine gun, an issue several gun advocates said they intend to challenge.
The proposed legislation reads: “Sawed-off shotguns, machine guns and short-barreled rifles are still prohibited.”
Mr. Cox said his organization would challenge the laws in court if necessary and would not rule out seeking an injunction to stop implementation of the emergency rules.
“We look forward to working with Congress to address this issue, and if the need arises we look forward to pursuing legal action against Mayor Fenty and the District,” he said.View Entire Story
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