Dick Anthony Heller, who successfully challenged the District’s handgun ban in a landmark Supreme Court decision, is again suing the District of Columbia, LL has learned.
According to a complaint obtained by LL, Heller, along with co-plaintiffs Absalom M. Jordan Jr., and Amy McVey, are taking particular aim at the effective ban of semiautomatic pistols by the District’s gun regulations, which in essence ban all semiautomatic weapons as “machine guns.”
The lawsuit also takes two other exceptions to the District’s new gun regs. One is that the District’s registration process is unduly “onerous,” citing specifically the legislatively unrestricted fees that can be levied on a gun registrant. The other count holds that the District’s doctrine that a gun can only be loaded in the presence of a “reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm” constitutes a unreasonable infringement of handgun owners’ rights under the Heller decision.
The suit asks the court to issue injunctions that would (a) allow semiautomatic weapons that hold fewer than 12 rounds, (b) order the District to register handguns without a ballistics test, and (c) order the District not to enforce the “reasonably perceived threat” part of the handgun law.
When the new gun regulations were announced earlier this month, acting attorney general Peter Nickles told reporters he was certain that new lawsuits would be filed in response.
More to come.
UPDATE, 4:45 P.M.: Jordan says he attempted to register a .22-caliber Smith & Wesson Model 45 target pistol but was turned away by police. Had he actually brought the gun to police headquarters to register it, he says, “the police officer who was there told me they would have arrested me.”
That weapon is one he had registered in the District until the mid-1970s, when the District’s handgun ban was put into place. Since them he says, he’s kept it and other weapons outside the District in safekeeping. Jordan did successfully submit a revolver for registration.
Like several observers, Jordan compares the District’s perceived reticence to comply with the courts with such tactics during the civil rights movement. “This reminds me of massive resistance. It reminds me of Orval Faubus, Lester Maddox with a baseball bat. It reminds me of George Wallace.”
UPDATE, 4:55 P.M.: Here is the complaint [PDF].
UPDATE, 5:43 P.M.: Nickles says the suit was “no surprise.”
Nickles says there is a “fundamental conflict” between Heller & Co. and the the Supreme Court’s decision. “They don’t like the idea of having any standards of when you can load the gun for self-defense,” Nickles says of the plaintiffs. The decision, he says, “didn’t say you can have a handgun loaded in the home in the event you might have a feeling to use it for whatever.”