A federal judge has upheld the new restrictions on gun ownership that were passed by the Washington, D.C., city council after the United States Supreme Court invalidated Washington, D.C.'s gun laws two years ago. The Plaintiff in this case was Dick Heller, the same Plaintiff as in the Supreme Court case. Gun owners were claiming that the new restrictions were unduly burdensome and excessive. The new regulations require background searches, fingerprints, photos and a ballistic identification procedure that allows police to trace a bullet to a particular weapon. In addition, the restrictions bans assault weapons and large ammunition feeding devices. The federal judge ruled that these restrictions do not violate the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The judge said he was deferring to the judgment of the city council in upholding the restrictions. He found that sufficient evidence was produced at the city council hearing to establish that the registration requirements will effectuate the goal of promoting public safety and that there is a sufficient nexus present between the requirements and the important governmental interest of promoting public safety. In upholding the ban on assault weapons and large ammunition feeding devices the judge ruled that he was deferring to the judgment of the city council which found that such weapons are "disproportionately likely to be used by criminals" and have no legitimate use for self defense. In upholding the ban on large ammunition feeding devices the judge found that such a restriction does not render a weapon inoperable and is not an unduly burdensome restriction.
The case is important because it focus on the standard of review to be applied by reviewing courts when deciding restrictions on guns. In this case the judge chose an intermediate standard of review. He decided against applying the toughest test which applies to fundamental rights and he rejected the city's suggestion that he apply a highly permissive test. The judge seemed to go right down the middle.
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