THINGS DID NOT go well the last time the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit took a hard look at the District’s gun regulations. In 2007, the court struck down as unconstitutional a handgun ban and a requirement that long guns in the home be kept unloaded and secured with trigger locks at all times. A conservative majority of the Supreme Court used the case as a springboard in 2008 for a ruling that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Lawyers for the District would be forgiven for being a little nervous last November when three of the most conservative judges on the appeals court were randomly assigned to hear a challenge to the District’s revamped gun regulations.
Last week, the judges — or, more precisely, two of them — delivered a pleasant surprise. Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg and Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson upheld the District’s ban on “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines — defined by the District as those holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Also upheld were certain provisions that require gun owners to register handguns. The decision was, in our view, correct in its conclusions and methodology.