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D.C. Will Expand Legal Guns

The D.C. Police Department announced emergency regulations today that will greatly expand the models of handguns that District residents can own, a victory for opponents of gun control.

The changes mean District residents can legally obtain at least 1,000 additional types and models of handguns that had previously been banned. The new regulations are designed to keep the city compliant with last year's Supreme Court decision that overturned the city's longstanding ban on handguns.

After that Supreme Court ruling, the D.C. Council approved new regulations that permit residents to own certain handguns once an applicant passed a written examination and proved proof of residency, good vision and ballistic testing.

In determining what types of hand guns can be kept in the city, District officials compiled a list based on the types of weapons are certified for sale in California.

Some gun rights advocates protested, saying the list was too restrictive.

Alan Gura, the lead attorney in the Heller case, filed another suit in March on behalf of three individuals who wanted a handgun that wasn't on the District's list.

To avoid litigation, the District will now also permit residents to register weapons currently allowed in Maryland and Massachusetts. D.C. residents can also register weapons that have similar features to those allowed in California, Massachusetts and Maryland.

"We are gratified," Gura said. "The District is in the process of caving into our lawsuit. They are obviously aware it is not winnable."

Attorney General Peter Nickles said the "city listened" to the concerns from gun rights activists.

"We had discussions and this gets us to where we need to be," Nickles said.
Nickles said it's not clear exactly how many new models of weapons will be covered by the changes. But there are currently 1,375 types of permissible handguns on the California list. There are 2,245 on Maryland's, according to Nickles.

"If there are folks out there who have had their applications denied, hey can reapply and if the weapon appears on the District's (new) roster, they can get handguns," Nickles said.

By Tim Craig  |  June 19, 2009; 2:03 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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