Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Americans who live in the nation’s capital are the only ones who are not allowed to carry a gun outside the home under any circumstances, and the justice system refuses to help.

On Monday, a U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order denying a request to force a lower court to rule on Palmer v. District of Columbia, which challenges the city’s outright ban on bearing arms.

Alan Gura is the attorney for Washington resident Tom Palmer and the other plaintiffs in the case. He filed a writ of mandamus to the appeals court in October to ask that it force the U.S. District Court to issue an opinion.

The circuit judges wrote that the delay was not “so egregious or unreasonable as to warrant the extraordinary remedy of mandamus at this time.”

They added that, “We are confident that the district court will act on the motions as promptly as its docket permits.”

The definition of “promptly” seems to mean something different in the federal court system than it does for the rest of us, as it took the appeals court two months to just decide that the lower court was not slow walking the case.

In fact, that appears to be exactly what is happening.  

The Palmer case was first filed in Aug. 2009, and four years later, it has not gotten past first base.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., heard oral arguments in the case in district court in Oct. 2012. At the end, he promised a decision  “within a short period of time.”  In the fourteen months since, Judge Scullin has not mentioned the case.

Every state in the country allows at least some gun carry rights. Illinois was the last state to deny the right to bear arms, but the federal appeals court overturned that law in Moore v. Madigan.

The Illinois challenge was filed, ruled, appealed and given a six month period for the state legislature to rewrite the new laws within two years. The contrast to D.C. is striking.

Mr. Gura, who was the lead attorney in the landmark Supreme Court Heller case, is not giving up. He told me Tuesday that “The appellate court allowed us to renew this petition if the delays persist, and we will do so.”

The District’s law is clearly unconstitutional, but the courts don’t appear to want to intervene on residents’ behalf.

As long as this continues, there are 600,000 Americans denied their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Judge Scullin should issue a decision immediately.

Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).



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