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Any time you have the opportunity to use the word “imponderable,” you should use it.

It’s a great word. It has a great sound. (Test it out, let it roll off your tongue.) And best of all, it conjures up images of bespectacled old professors, ranting U.S. senators on the floor, and 1940s sleuths hot on the trail—basically people that take themselves seriously for somewhat good reason.

You don’t hear the word a lot. And when you do, you remember.

Last time I heard it, I was interviewing Robert Levy, a lawyer (and so much more) for the pro-gun side of the DC handgun ban case. We were discussing the future of handgun ownership in the District should the ban end. What sort of laws and restrictions would be put in place? Who would write them? When would they be enacted?

“It’s imponderable,” responded Levy. “Even if the handgun ban is overturned, the court could write a narrow opinion, or it could write a very broad opinion.”

The ruling may dictate how long the D.C. Council has to pass handgun legislation. There may be some language permitting certain safety requirements. Maybe the Supreme Court will direct a lower court to issue guidelines for D.C. The point: Speculating about the court’s decision now is just one big maybe on top of another.

At the time, I also spoke to someone in interim attorney general’s Peter Nickles’ office, who said the office was “ready” for whatever action the court took. But, beyond that, the man wouldn’t comment. Well, Police Chief Cathy Lanier, let ‘er rip last night around 6:35 p.m., sending out this e-mail to various police listservs:

The Supreme Court’s ruling is limited and leaves intact various other laws that apply to private residents who would purchase handguns or other firearms for home possession. It is important that everyone know that:

* First, all firearms must be registered with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Firearms Registration Section before they may be lawfully possessed.

* Second, automatic and semiautomatic handguns generally remain illegal and may not be registered.

* Third, the Supreme Court’s ruling is limited to handguns in the home and does not entitle anyone to carry firearms outside his or her own home.

Lastly, although the Court struck the safe storage provision on the ground that it was too broadly written, in my opinion firearms in the home should be kept either unloaded and disassembled or locked.

DC will not start registering eligible handguns until July 17. In the meanwhile, there is plenty of information to peruse, including firearms registration requirements, and a brochure about how to register a firearm, at www.mpdc.dc.gov/gunregistration.