- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2007

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced yesterday he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal court ruling against the city’s 30-year-old handgun ban.

“We want to have strict handgun laws in the District of Columbia,” said Mr. Fenty, a Democrat, outside the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters. “The response we’ve heard from the residents has been overwhelming to fight this to the Supreme Court, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer said she will file for an extension to a 90-day period to appeal the ruling, which would extend the deadline from Aug. 6 to Sept. 5.

Miss Singer said the city would likely argue that the Second Amendment does not prohibit “reasonable” laws restricting guns and that the current laws are appropriate for an urban area such as the District.

The mayor was backed by several members of the D.C. Council, including Public Safety Committee Chairman Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, and Health Committee Chairman David A. Catania, at-large independent.

Mr. Catania called guns a threat to public health and said gun violence is contributing to shorter life expectancy in the city.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said she supports the ban and that guns kept for personal protection are likely to be stolen, used against their owners or involved in accidental shootings.

“After 17 years of policing here, I don’t see it being a big increase in safety for the homeowner,” she said.

Chief Lanier said the majority of homicides are committed with guns and that police confiscate about five illegal firearms daily.

Miss Singer said if the appeal is rejected, the city will have to develop a registration-and-licensing system.

“If the law was repealed, the District would have to look at what kind of procedures it would want to set in place for how people could register, license, et cetera,” she said. “That’s something the council would have to undertake.”

On March 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled 2-to-1 to reverse a lower-court decision against six D.C. residents who sued to keep their guns for self-defense.

The ruling effectively repealed the handgun ban, but the city requested the laws remain in place through the appeals process. Even if the ban is repealed, there will still be restrictions on who can buy and sell guns.

The ban, enacted in 1976, prohibits residents from owning handguns. Rifles and shotguns are legal, but must be kept unloaded and disassembled.

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