Following the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in DC v. Heller, the District of Columbia was forced to allow handgun ownership. They quickly cobbled together the Firearms Control Emergency Amendment Act of 2008, into which they put as many obstacles as they could. They retained a very intrusive and burdensome registration system that wouldn't pass constitutional muster in most other places.
Dick Heller and the 2nd Amendment Foundation brought another suit challenging several of the District's regulations, and thus far, the courts have been uncooperative. Today's decision in the US District Court [pdf] doesn't leave us with much hope.
Judge Boasberg approached the proceedings with a hostile and dismissive mind. The Supreme Court found that rational basis was off the table when considering laws abridging the right to keep and bear arms, so he simply calls it intermediate scrutiny.
Given that the Supreme Court urges judicial deference to legislative predictions as well as to legislative judgments regarding conflicting evidence,it is plain that Plaintiffs are mistaken about the burden of proof in this case. The District need not prove that the gun-registration laws will actually further its asserted interests in order to prevail. [p. 17]
Yes, they do need to…at least outside Washington DC. He sweeps aside statistical evidence from Gary Kleck in favor of anecdotal evidence from a few folks in law enforcement, and he arrives at some rather alarming conclusions.
Much more persuasive is the District’s second, public-safety, justification for the gun registry. The registration system ostensibly serves this interest by allowing the city government to screen out dangerous or irresponsible people who try to obtain a firearm, to ensure that gun owners are familiar with gun safety and D.C. firearm regulations, and to inhibit the illegal trafficking of firearms. In other words, the basic registration requirement allows the District to keep track of who is responsible for which guns,while also acting as a “hook” onto which the District can attach additional public-safety regulations. [p. 23]
The federal background-check system so lauded by proponents of gun control is supposed to screen out ineligible buyers. The last sentence strongly implies that upholding this law will make further restrictions more acceptable down the road.
If there's any doubt as to his hostility towards us, his response to the argument that multiple registration requirements create a burden wipes that out.
In any event, as alluded to earlier, the Second Amendment has so far been read to protect only “a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” While one or two firearms may be necessary for such purposes, a large collection of weapons is not. The Constitution, in short, guarantees the right “to keep and bear arms,” not the right “to keep and bear an armory.” As an individual seeks to acquire more guns, he moves farther and farther away from the right to bear arms and closer toward the constitutionally unprotected goal of assembling a personal arsenal. [p. 59]
So, what constitutes a "personal arsenal," thus removing constitutional protection? Three guns? Ten? Does freedom of the press only apply to two or fewer computers in the house? This makes no sense and sets a very dangerous precedent.
Our next step is to appeal this to the DC Circuit. They sided with us in the original lawsuit, and we can hope they stand with us now.