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Palmer v. District of Columbia: Upholding the 2nd Amendment

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Government cannot pass laws, then place into practice rules, that effectively ban a constitutional right. That's the upshot of a ruling released late Saturday in a long-running Second Amendment case out of Washington, D.C.

A lawsuit filed years ago challenged the District of Columbia's ban on carrying handguns outside the home. U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. of New York, appointed to hear the case, Palmer v. District of Columbia, by Chief Justice John Roberts, found the right to a handgun cannot be proscribed in the fashion that D.C. did — requiring handgun owners to have a permit to carry but then issuing no permits.

Heavily relying on prior appellate court rulings, Judge Scullin said “there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

But as with Heller, the landmark 2008 ruling that affirmed the right of individuals to bear arms, Palmer does not preclude district lawmakers from adopting “a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards.” Past being prologue, however, D.C.'s proclivity for disingenuous and indecipherable gun laws could make any “remedy” worse.

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