By Matthew Vadum
The District of Columbia has gotten rid of its regulation limiting how much ammunition a concealed-carry handgun permit holder may carry after a local resident sued it in federal court.
This marks the second time in under a year that the local government in the nation’s capital city has been forced to amend its gun laws after being sued by Dick Heller, a civil rights activist whose multiple lawsuits have advanced the cause of Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia and throughout the nation.
A previous lawsuit Heller brought against the D.C. government resulted in the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that held that the Second Amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” Two years later, the high court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that this right “is fully applicable to the States.”
In the lawsuit filed on June 30 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Heller argued that a D.C. regulation preventing holders of concealed pistol carry licenses from carrying more than 20 rounds of ammunition at a time was unconstitutional. Such a limit violates the U.S. Constitution because there is no historical precedent for it, and it interferes with the right of a concealed carrier to properly use a firearm for self-defense in any public confrontations that may arise, according to the lawsuit, as The Epoch Times previously reported.
The legal action was one of many filed nationwide after the 6–3 ruling by the Supreme Court on June 23 in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which recognized a constitutional right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. Importantly, the ruling found that gun restrictions must be deeply rooted in American history if they are to survive constitutional scrutiny.
On Sept. 14, Robert J. Contee III, chief of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, gave notice (pdf) to the court that on an emergency basis he had repealed the District’s ban on carrying more than 20 rounds, The Reload, a firearms policy and politics publication, reported.
The policy change heads off a pending injunction request against the regulation that Heller was pursuing under the new legal standards articulated in the Bruen decision.
“On review of these developments, this regulation, its enforcement history, and in consideration of other regulations that govern concealed-carry licensees, the Chief has determined that emergency rulemaking action is prudent and necessary for the immediate preservation of the welfare of District residents and to enable the District to avoid accruing liability for attorney fees in legal challenges,” Contee wrote in the legal filing.
The decision to unload the ammo regulation was not surprising, Heller told The Reload. “The surprise was the speed at which this complaint was dispelled.”
He described the District’s gun restrictions as “arbitrary” and “irrational” and argued they served to “ensure bad guys can prey on unprotected residents.”
According to The Reload, the regulatory change “will impact all gun owners licensed to carry a firearm in the District by immediately removing the previous 20-round cap that had governed licensed gun owners since the mid-1970s. Licensed gun owners will now be free to carry as much spare ammunition as they wish, provided that it meets the District’s other ammunition regulations. The rule change does not impact the District’s 10-round limit on magazine capacity.”
George L. Lyon Jr. of Arsenal Attorneys, who represents Heller and the other plaintiffs in the current lawsuit, previously told The Epoch Times that a person “should be able to carry the amount of ammunition that you believe you need in order to protect yourself, and that may vary.”
Lyon is also representing plaintiffs in another lawsuit launched by gun owners in the nation’s capital who want to be allowed to carry firearms on the Metro, the region’s crime-ridden public transit system.
In November 2021, the District again backed down when faced with litigation initiated by Heller, according to The Reload. The D.C. Council voted to amend its “ghost gun” ban at the suggestion of D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, a Democrat. The term “ghost gun” is a pejorative term generally used by gun control activists to describe homemade firearms that lack serial numbers.
Meanwhile, Stephen Gutowski, founder and editor of The Reload, quipped that the D.C. government “should probably just consult with Dick Heller before they propose new gun restrictions.”
“They keep caving to him before he can even beat them in court,” Gutowski wrote on Twitter.