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D.C. Begins Gun Registration in Wake of Supreme Court Ruling

BY Admin  July 17, 2008 at 3:10 PM EST

Firearms reference line at D.C. police department

The ruling found that Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun for self-defense and that D.C.’s ban on handguns was unconstitutional.

Among the first to show up at the police department Thursday was one of the plaintiffs in the case, Dick Heller. Despite his victory in the high court, Heller expressed dismay that the District’s new handgun legislation, which was approved this week by the D.C. Council and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, is still too strict and violates the meaning of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“It appears that the city does not yet understand the decision and order of the Supreme Court,” Heller told the Washington Post.

The provisions of the new law are still some of the toughest controls in the nation. The new law requires gun owners to obtain a handgun permit, a process which includes a written test and ballistic testing on the firearm.

It allows citizens to keep handguns at home for the purpose of self defense only. The guns must be unloaded and either disassembled or equipped with trigger locks.

The weapons can only be loaded and used in situations involved imminent danger from an attacker in the home. The legislation appears to reject any broader interpretation that the Supreme Court may have intended toward Americans being able to arm themselves against any threat.

Gun owners can only carry less than 12 rounds of ammunition, and the city is continuing to ban most semi-automatic handguns. The city categorized those weapons under the ban on machine guns, which was not part of the Supreme Court case.

Dane von Breichenruchardt, president of the Bill of Rights Foundation, told USA Today the city was attempting to make gun ownership as “difficult and restrictive as possible.”

“We’re going to be back in court. There is no doubt about that,” he said.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson told the Associated Press when the law was approved, “This is not perfect legislation,” and that the city would continue to look at its gun registration law.

“I am pretty confident that the people of the District of Columbia want us to err in the direction of trying to restrict guns,” D.C. Mayor Fenty told the Post.

The District’s legislation is also entangled with a federal law that forbids purchase of a handgun in a state in which the buyer is not a resident unless the weapon is transferred for pickup to a federally licensed firearms dealer in the buyer’s home state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But D.C. has no licensed firearms dealers, though there are some interested in establishing businesses there.

D.C. officials said they expect most of the early gun registrants to be people who illegally kept handguns in their homes and want to make them legal during the six-month amnesty period.