The District of Columbia's ban on carrying handguns outside the home is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled. In a 19-page ruling made public yesterday, US District Judge Frederick J. Scullin concluded that the Second Amendment gives people the right to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense. The lawsuit challenging the city's ban on carrying handguns outside the home was filed in 2009, shortly after the city rewrote its gun laws following a landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down the city's 32-year-old ban on handguns in 2008.
New rules allowed residents to keep guns in their homes but required that they be registered. Gun owners now have to take a safety class, be photographed and fingerprinted, and re-register their weapons every three years. In finding the city's ban unconstitutional, Scullin cited two Supreme Court cases, including the 2008 case that struck down the city's handgun ban and a 2010 case involving Chicago's handgun ban. Scullin wrote that "there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny." A spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, which defended the city's ban, said the city is studying its options. Those include appealing the judge's ruling but also asking the judge to stop his ruling from going into effect during any appeal. (Read more handgun stories.)