A Washington, D.C. regulatory limit on how much ammunition a concealed carry handgun permit holder can carry was removed after a local resident filed a lawsuit in federal court this summer.
On Sept. 14, Robert J. Contee III of the Metropolitan Police Department gave notice to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit that he had repealed the district’s ban on carrying more than 20 rounds, citing an emergency basis for the decision.
“On review of these developments, this regulation, its enforcement history, and in consideration of other regulations that govern concealed-carry licensees, the Chief has determined that emergency rulemaking action is prudent and necessary for the immediate preservation of the welfare of District residents and to enable the District to avoid accruing liability for attorney fees in legal challenges,” Contee wrote in the legal filing.
The concern of liability stemmed from a notorious civil activist named Dick Heller, who for the second time in under a year succeeded in amending the district’s gun laws after suing in federal court. Heller became a household name in the legal world after the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled the Second Amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”
In his June 30 lawsuit, Heller said the city’s regulation preventing concealed carry license holders from carrying more than 20 rounds of ammunition at a time was unconstitutional due to a lack of historic precedent.
Heller said his surprise was not a result of his lawsuit’s success against the city measure but “was the speed at which this complaint was dispelled,” he told the Reload.
Without a judge’s intervention, Contee agreed to enact an emergency rule rescinding its gun carry ammunition limit two days before the MPD was due to submit a relief to justify the regulation under the test from New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a 6-3 Supreme Court ruling in June that held New York’s law requiring a license to carry concealed weapons in public places is unconstitutional.
Heller’s legal team agreed to stay the case until October after the local law changes in order to formulate a possible settlement with the district.
The decision immediately removes the previous 20-round capacity previously applied to concealed carry gun owners since the 1970s. Licensed carriers will be able to carry as much ammunition on them as they desire, so long as it matches the district’s other ammunition rules. The change does not alter the 10-round limit on magazine capacity.
Heller scored another win after the district voted to amend its “ghost gun” ban last November, a measure that was brought forth by Attorney General Karl Racine, a Democrat. The gun activist argued the district’s rule would have targeted all polymer-based guns, including Glock handguns. Washington, D.C. amended the measure to apply only to undetectable firearms.
The rise in Second Amendment-related lawsuits filed in Washington, D.C. coincides with reports of a rise in gun violence across the city. Data from the MPD show homicides in the district have been rising consecutively in the years since 2017, and 2022 is on track to see the trend continue.
In light of the Bruen decision, three Washington, D.C. residents and one Virginia resident filed a lawsuit against Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser in June arguing the city’s law banning firearms on public transportation is unconstitutional.
President Joe Biden has vehemently opposed the Bruen ruling held by the high court’s 6-3 Republican-appointed majority, saying, “The United States Supreme Court has chosen to strike down New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens. This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution and should deeply trouble us all.”
The Washington Examiner contacted Contee for comment.
Source: Kaelan Deese, The Washington Examiner