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D.C. Circuit Rejects Second Amendment Plaintiff's Motion to Immediately Enjoin Operation of D.C. Rifle/Shotgun Restrictions:

Appellants' contention is that appellees' petition for certiorari concedes the unconstitutionality of D.C. Code Section 7-2507.02 as it requires the disassembling of shotguns and rifles or the placement of trigger locks, making such arms practically useless for self defense. Therefore, appellants argue, our mandate holding this provision unconstitutional should issue. But our opinion does not specifically address the constitutionality of that statute as it applies to shotguns and rifles because the only plaintiff we concluded had standing under our precedent was Dick Heller, who complained solely about the restrictions on ownership and use of a handgun. Parker, 478 F.3d 370, 373-76 (D.C. Cir. 2007). At least one other plaintiff (Gillian St. Lawrence) did address Section 7-2507.02 as it applied to shotguns but she did not have the same injury as Heller --- the denial of a license. Id. To be sure, as our opinion suggested, the Supreme Court may well disagree with Seegars, 396 F.3d 1248 (D.C. Cir. 2005), and conclude that all the plaintiffs have standing.

In any event, the District's petition for certiorari makes an alternative argument not presented in our court --- that the District's ban on handguns can be justified so long as rifles and shotguns can be utilized in the home for self protection. The Supreme Court, if it should reach that argument --- and conclude it was constitutional to ban handguns in the home if long guns were permitted --- would necessarily be obliged to consider the impact of Section 7-2507.02, since a disassembly or trigger lock requirement might render a shotgun or rifle virtually useless to face an unexpected threat.[3]

[Footnote 3:] The District of Columbia Council never contemplated the specific use of a rifle or shotgun in that situation. Had the Council contemplated such, it would, perforce, have had to consider the danger posed by a rifle's range and a shotgun's pellet spread, as well as the difficulty one would have handling such long weapons in enclosed spaces --- particularly by smaller individuals. Appellees' brief at 17 did suggest that any gun (including a pre-1976 legal handgun) might be used in self defense in a "true emergency," otherwise described as "genuine imminent danger." But the Code does not allow for such, nor did the District ever specify how one would define the circumstances under which one could assemble or unlock a rifle or shotgun to face a "true emergency" (professionals might well be amused at such a hypothetical). The truth is that neither the Code nor the District, in this litigation, ever suggested that a rifle or shotgun, as opposed to a handgun, could be legally employed in self defense.

Judge Henderson, who dissented from the invalidation of the handgun ban, concurred in the denial of the motion, but did not join the rest of the order.

David Muellenhoff (mail):
Well, nuts.
9.27.2007 2:41pm
Mr. X (www):
A copy of the decision, along with other updates in the case, can be found here.
9.27.2007 3:28pm
dwlawson (www):
I think the denial helps more than it hurts. Especially for those of us in Chicago.


District of Columbia Council never contemplated the specific use of a rifle or shotgun in that situation. Had the Council contemplated such, it would, perforce, have had to consider the danger posed by a rifle's range and a shotgun's pellet spread, as well as the difficulty one would have handling such long weapons in enclosed spaces --- particularly by smaller individuals.


My major concern for self-defense in my home is the unwieldy nature of a shotgun in my hallways and stairwells. Also, my wife has difficulting handling the larger weapon.

What compounds this is the fact that I am out of town on business from Sunday night to Thursday night every week, leaving her home alone with a firearm not suited to her abilities.
9.27.2007 6:59pm
Happyshooter:
Hmmmmm...
So we may end up with it being the case that a citizen can have a pistol in DC and not a long gun.

The language about a rifle's range sounds like a run up to the democratic senators' attempt to ban 'powerful' rifles as too powerful.
9.28.2007 8:11am