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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dave Kopel on the D.C. Carry Ruling

I've seen blog posts, Twitter posts, and news reports that make Saturday's ruling in Parker all roses for non D.C. residents when it comes to carrying handguns in the District.  Dave Kopel wrote this morning on the Volokh Conspiracy.  As usual he provides some thorough analysis but also adds some cautionary comments about the ruling:
Taking into account the summaries from the WaPo and from Fox31, it is clear that one should not read them as if they were legal codes. For example, the WaPo article indicates that non-residents “without felony records” can carry in D.C. It is possible that Chief Lanier said this, but it seems more likely that the D.C. Attorney advice which she transmitted to the D.C. Police was more restrictive than the article’s text would literally mean. Federal law (18 U.S.C. 922(g)) sets up 9 categories of persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms. A felony conviction is the best-known of the “prohibited persons” classes, but not the only one. It seems doubtful that the new D.C. order allows gun carrying by persons dishonorably discharged by the military, persons convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor against an intimate partner, and so on, who are prohibited by federal law from gun possession.
And Kopel notes other things to consider:
Nothing in the District Court’s opinion invalidates the D.C. ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.  Nothing in the opinion addresses the numerous federal and D.C. laws which prohibit carry in a huge number of locations within the District–such as most federal buildings, lots of federal property, as well as schools and colleges. (The D.C. “school” ban even encompasses a school of cosmetology whose students are all adults.) Under a 2009 federal statute, National Parks must follow the arms-carrying policies of their host state. The National Park Service regulation implementing this statute includes the following exemption to a general ban on weapons in National Parks. “(h) Notwithstanding any other provision in this Chapter, a person may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms within a national park area in accordance with the laws of the state in which the national park area, or that portion thereof, is located, except as otherwise prohibited by applicable Federal law.” 36 C.F.R. § 2.4. Thus, it might arguably be lawful to carry a concealed handgun at the Jefferson Memorial, if you have a handgun carry permit from your home state (or if you are a D.C. resident with a registered handgun).
The order provided to Metropolitan Police Officers by Chief Cathy Lanier can be found here.

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