Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Media Source: 
Ann E. Marimow

The District’s top lawyer is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider last month’s decision overturning some of the city’s strict gun-registration laws.

Attorney General Karl A. Racine this week asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. to rehear a panel decision that would eliminate some provisions of the city’s “carefully crafted firearm-registration system, which promotes critical public safety interests in the unique jurisdiction that is the nation’s capital.”

A three-judge panel of the court in September struck down the District’s one-gun-per-month registration limit as unconstitutional.

The 30-day waiting period is intended to slow the pace at which a resident can accumulate guns, according to the court filing. City lawyers pointed to the recent spike in homicides in the District, which last month surpassed the total for all of 2014.

Two judges on the panel — Douglas H. Ginsburg and Patricia A. Millett — also voted to knock down requirements that gun owners re-register weapons every three years; bring the firearm with them to register; and pass a 15-question knowledge test of local laws.

The lawsuit is one of many challenges to the District’s gun-control regulations that were crafted in response the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision declaring a Second Amendment guarantee to own a firearm for self-defense.

Stephen Halbrook, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the city had offered “weak grounds on which to seek a rehearing.” He called it an exaggeration for the city to suggest that residents would seek to accumulate arsenals if not for the 30-day waiting period.

The appeals court rarely agrees to reconsider panel opinions. A decision to rehear the case would require the vote of a majority of the court’s active judges.