This is my weekly article on the fallout from the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Heller v. District of Columbia.
First, given that DC is ground central in the fallout from Heller, we should start there.
Earlier this week, the DC City Council did adopt unanimously an emergency 90 day ordinance to create a process for DC residents to acquire handguns and to register handguns that they had and which they wished to legally possess within DC. This would include those DC residents who maintain residences in other areas primarily Members of Congress, judges, high executive officials, Congressional staffers, etc. It may have the “safe transport” changes that I stated were constitutionally necessary.
I have not actually seen the text of the emergency ordinance so I can only go by press reports. There has been a substantial amount of criticism of it in terms of the provisions. While the emergency regulations do not create a New York style premises license, it appears to have major flaws – AS IN MASSIVE AND MAJOR - provisions, which include the semiautomatic ban, a revised safe storage requirement that is unworkable, a cumbersome registration procedure, safe transport issues, etc. Today, incidentally, DC actually started to register guns.
Initial news reports indicated that Dick Heller had been rejected in his attempt to register his gun. Later reports indicated that Mr. Heller didn't even bring a gun with him to register this morning, but instead expressed "his frustrations with the District's continued ban on semiautomatic weapons." It was also reported that Mr. Heller plans to challenge the so far unopposed Eleanor Holmes Norton for her seat as the District's non-voting delegate. He apparently brought nominating petitions in instead of his gun.
People have to remember that Mr. Heller presented a revolver for registration which triggered the lawsuit and the Supreme Court held that he was entitled to register that gun. Anyone who wants to find out about the first day of registration can do so by going to www.washingtonpost.com to read Paul Duggan’s piece entitled “Turnout Low on First Day of Handgun Registration.” Heller’s behavior did not exactly help his cause.
Having said that, I for one would note that going from a banned market to a regulated market creates a number of issues that people need to be aware of. This situation creates all kinds of opportunities for mischief and as such I hope that in drafting the ordinance – including the amnesty or “get legal” portions the City Government coordinated with the United States Attorney’s office which prosecutes most crimes (whether based on local DC or federal law) within the District. The reason the USAO needs to be consulted is that irrespective of local DC law, a lot of guns probably were brought into DC in violation of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 or were represent stolen property. Unless the amnesty provisions were done in conjunction with the USAO, there is likely to be a lot of self-incrimination and use immunity issues that DC stumbles into.http://www.californiaprogressreport....eller_gun.html