A Washington, D.C., district judge’s decision to uphold the District’s ban on handguns is a stark reminder of the nation’s deep divide on guns, as the gun control debate heats up ahead of midterm elections.
In the case of the Rittenhouse case, activists decried the decision as disappointing and even unconstitutional in a week when this week’s mass shootings in Florida and Louisiana prompted renewed discussion over gun control in the wake of a push for the federal Assault Weapons Ban in Congress.
The case was filed in 2004 by a man who wanted to legally carry a gun to a local football game. Although he has a licensed firearms license, the district government decided to ban handgun possession based on the argument that handguns would make others feel unsafe.
Writing in a ruling delivered last month, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon decided the city’s ban does not violate a Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“If the Court were to take a broad view of the Second Amendment, the District would be violating the Constitution,” wrote Leon. “There is no case, no Constitutional case, and no authority that suggests that people may have unfettered access to handguns in public, even in a home.”
Leon ultimately found it “hard to imagine a line of least restrictive alternatives for regulating handguns that would nevertheless result in substantial improvements in community safety.”
“This court’s decision, no matter how strong, will be overturned in an appeals court,” wrote Jesse Davis, executive director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “No matter what the District Court of Appeals decides, the Washington, D.C., mayor will absolutely try to do the opposite — and we will be ready to challenge him.”
This is not the first time this administration has faced questions on its gun policy. In October 2014, Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois threw out Chicago’s ban on concealed carry. The Second Amendment Center gave the mayor a zero on its Gun Law Scorecard for his handling of the issue, because of his administration’s handling of the law. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was one of eight mayors who refused to implement the law at the federal level.