Judge Stays D.C. Handgun Ruling for 90 Days (Updated)

Updated 7:02 p.m. | A federal judge on Tuesday put a hold on the ruling that overturned the District's ban on carrying handguns in public, effectively giving D.C. police and law enforcement some space to figure out how to respond.  

The July 26 ruling by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. declaring the gun law unconstitutional threw Metropolitan Police Department and legal officials into rapid, confusing response . D.C. police were ordered on Sunday not to arrest people for carrying registered pistols and deadly weapons in public — a directive that effectively put them in the position of recognizing all other jurisdiction's handgun permits.  

MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier and District officials requested the stay on Monday evening, saying it would allow them to pursue an appeal and enact a “licensing mechanism” consistent with the ruling and the Second Amendment. In the request, they note that the ruling was already causing harm to the District because defense attorneys had started demanding that prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and D.C.'s Office of the Attorney General drop all charges pursuant to the handgun ban.  

"Unfortunately, the literal terms of the Court’s Order were overbroad and not explicitly limited to pistols or Second Amendment concerns," the filing stated stated, citing references to registration of handguns.  

The judge's stay is effective immediately for 90 days. The three-page document explains that the hold is based on an agreement between both parties that staying the decision until Oct. 22 should provide the D.C. Council with an opportunity to enact appropriate legislation consistent with the Palmer v. District of Columbia ruling.  

The document further orders that the Second Amendment rights proponents who are plaintiffs in the case should file their opposition to the motion for a stay pending appeal on or before Aug. 4.  

As part of the stay, the court also noted that it sees no need to clarify its decision and that the injunction ordered on July 26 clearly applied only to handguns and not any other type of deadly dangerous weapon.  

In light of the court's stay, D.C. police have been ordered to once again start enforcing all of the District's gun control laws, including the ban on carrying pistols in public.  

"Although the stay takes effect immediately, we must recognize that members of the public may not be aware that all firearms laws in the District are once again in effect," stated an order from Lanier issued Tuesday. "Officers are reminded to handle all matters regarding firearms with caution, while relying on their professionalism and training to support sound judgment while both serving public safety and respecting the rights of individuals."