Attorney Asks Court To Compel Decision on DC's Ban on Firearms Outside Home

Matt Vespa
By Matt Vespa | May 14, 2014 | 12:50 PM EDT

Legal gun owners in DC waiting to hear about whether they can carry their firearms outside the home may have to wait a little longer.  The District of Colombia bans both open and concealed carry, which some have argued is unconstitutional. However, the case - Palmer V. District of Colombia - is still pending after five years, which has drawn suspicions of politicization.

Emily Miller reported on this development for Fox DC:


In August 2009, Tom Palmer and three other D.C. residents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court that said the total ban on carrying firearms -- open or concealed -- violated their Second Amendment rights. Alan Gura is the attorney for the Palmer case.

On Tuesday, Gura filed a second writ of mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals asking it to force the lower court to issue a decision. He will not speculate on the reason for the long wait, but says this is not normal.


Gura was also Dick Heller's attorney in the 2008 landmark Supreme Court case that overturned the District's 30-year total ban on handguns. After the Heller decision, D.C. technically abided by that ruling by establishing a complicated firearms registration system.

In addition, the city passed a law in 2009 that prohibited open and concealed carry of firearms, which prompted the Palmer lawsuit.

While a "short period of time" can be interpreted to mean things, a 20 month delay in issuing a district court decision is so rare that many find it suspicious.


The Palmer case has been in legal limbo several times. Judge Henry Kennedy was the first judge assigned to the case. He heard oral argument in Jan. 2010 but retired without issuing a ruling.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts intervened in July 2011 and reassigned this case to Judge Frederick Scullin of New York.

Even then, Judge Sculling took over a year to rehear arguments. After the judge heard from both sides in Oct. 2012, he promised that he would make a decision "within a short period of time."

While proponents of DC's gun law argue that it's for the protection of the public, especially Supreme Court justices and the president; Miller noted that these figures have armed security.  Additionally, this case has brought into question judicial expediency and access to the courts concerning filing challenges to regulations that some citizens feel infringe on their civil rights.