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District of Columbia Council Risks Contempt Citation on Gun Law

Updated on November 27, 2014

D.C. Gun Control Law Faces Controversy

The D.C. Council appears to be headed for a collision with a federal judge over its gun control legislation.
Despite warnings from U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin Jr., the D.C. Council is moving forward this week with legislation that would continue to prohibit residents from carrying concealed handguns. Scullin ruled in July the Council must revamp its law to make it comply with Second Amendment rights to carry guns.
The D.C. Council’s proposal would allow residents to apply to carry concealed handguns if they can prove a need, such as a threat to their lives. The applicants also would need the D.C. Police Department’s permission and would be required to undergo extensive background checks.
The D.C. Council approved temporary legislation after the judge’s July ruling that would allow applicants who can prove a need to apply for a concealed handgun permit. The bill the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety has submitted for a vote would make the temporary legislation permanent.
So far, 38 people have applied to the police department for the permits. None have been granted.
Gun owners say the D.C. Council’s licensing restrictions are so stringent that they violate Scullin’s order. Their attorney, Alan Gura, argues in a lawsuit that Scullin should find the D.C. Council in contempt.
Other provisions of the D.C. bill would allow owners of private homes, houses of worship and businesses to ban guns on their premises. Guns also would be prohibited in schools, government buildings, arenas and bars.
One of the few differences in the new proposal that is different from the original law involves the composition of the Concealed Pistol Licensing Review Board. Instead of a five-member board that included a judge, the new legislative proposal would remove the judge and expand the board to seven members. They would include a mental health professional and two private citizens experienced in handling firearms.

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