Palmer v. Dist. of Columbia

Decision Date24 July 2014
Docket Number1:09–CV–1482 FJS
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia
PartiesTom G. Palmer, George Lyon, Edward Raymond, Amy McVey, and Second Amendment Foundation, Inc., Plaintiffs, v. District of Columbia and Cathy Lanier, Defendants.

Alan Gura, Esq., Gura & Possessky, LLC, Alexandria, VA, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Andrew J. Saindon, Esq., Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM–DECISION AND ORDER

SCULLIN, Senior Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

Currently before the Court are Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and Defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

In their complaint, Plaintiffs assert two claims for relief. In their first claim, Plaintiffs allege that, [b]y requiring a permit to carry a handgun in public, yet refusing to issue such permits and refusing to allow the possession of any handgun that would be carried in public, Defendants maintain a complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public by almost all individuals.” See Dkt. No. 1, Complaint at ¶ 39. Plaintiffs also contend that Defendants' laws, customs, practices and policies generally banning the carrying of handguns in public violate the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, facially and as applied against the individual plaintiffs in this action, damaging plaintiffs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” See id. at ¶ 40.

In their second claim for relief, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants' laws, customs, practices and policies generally refusing the registration of firearms by individuals who live outside the District of Columbia violate the rights to travel and equal protection secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, facially and as applied against the individual plaintiffs in this action, damaging plaintiffs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.” See id. at ¶ 42.

Plaintiffs seek relief in the form of an Order permanently enjoining Defendants, “their officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the injunction, from enforcing D.C.Code § 7–2502.02(a)(4) to ban registration of handguns to be carried for self-defense by law-abiding citizens[.] See id. at WHEREFORE Clause. Furthermore, Plaintiffs seek an Order permanently enjoining Defendants, “their officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the injunction, from enforcing D.C.Code § 22–4504(a), OR, in the alternative, ordering [D]efendants to issue licenses to carry handguns to all individuals who desire such licenses and who have satisfied the existing requirements, aside from residence requirements, for the registration of a handgun[.] See id. Finally, Plaintiffs seek an Order permanently enjoining Defendants, “their officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the injunction, from denying firearm registration and handgun carry permit applications made by otherwise qualified individuals on account of lack of residence within the District of Columbia[.] See id.1

The parties do not dispute the basic facts that underlie this action. D.C.Code § 72502.01(a) provides that “no persons or organization in the District shall possess or control any firearm, unless the persons or organization holds a valid registration certificate for the firearm.” D.C.Code § 7–2502.02(a)(4) provides that individuals who are not retired police officers may only register a handgun “for use in self-defense within that person's home.” Pursuant to this statutory limitation, Defendants distribute handgun registration application forms requiring applicants to “give a brief statement of your intended use of the firearm and where the firearm will be kept.”

Defendants maintain a custom, practice and policy of refusing to entertain gun registration applications by individuals who do not reside in the District of Columbia. Defendants require gun registration applicants to submit “[p]roof of residency in the District of Columbia (e.g., a valid DC operator's permit, DC vehicle registration card, lease agreement for a residence in the District, the deed to your home or other legal document showing DC residency.” A first violation of the District of Columbia's ban on the ownership or possession of unregistered handguns is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. See D.C.Code § 7–2507.06.

D.C.Code § 22–4504(a) provides that [n]o person shall carry within the District of Columbia either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, without a license issued pursuant to District of Columbia law, or any deadly or dangerous weapon capable of being so concealed.” The first violation of this section by a non-felon is punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

Former D.C.Code § 22–4506 empowered the District of Columbia's police chief to issue licenses to carry handguns to individuals, including to individuals not residing in the District of Columbia. However, it was Defendant District of Columbia's policy for many years not to issue such licenses. On December 16, 2008, the District of Columbia's City Council and Mayor repealed the Police Chief's authority to issue handgun carry licenses. Accordingly, the District of Columbia lacks any mechanism to issue handgun carry licenses to individuals.

Plaintiff Palmer, a resident of the District, would carry a functional handgun in public for self-defense but refrains from doing so because he fears arrest, prosecution, fine, and imprisonment as he does not possess a license to carry a handgun. Plaintiff Palmer sought to register a handgun in the District of Columbia so that he might carry it for self-defense. On or about May 12, 2009, Defendant Lanier denied Plaintiff Palmer's application to register a handgun for the following reason:

The intended use of the firearm as stated on your firearms registration application, “I intend to carry this firearm, loaded, in public, for self-defense, when not kept in my home” is unacceptable per the Firearms Registration Emergency Amendment Act of 2008,” which states that pistols may only be registered by D.C. residents for protection within the home.

Defendant Lanier subsequently approved Plaintiff Palmer's application to register the handgun for home self-defense.

Plaintiff George Lyon, a resident of the District, would carry a functional handgun in public for self-defense but refrains from doing so because he fears arrest, prosecution, fine, and imprisonment as he does not possess a license to carry a handgun in Washington, D.C. Plaintiff Lyon is licensed to carry handguns in the states of Virginia, Utah, and Florida. He has approximately 240 hours of firearms training, of which approximately 140 hours relate specifically to handguns. Plaintiff Lyon sought to register a handgun in the District of Columbia so that he might carry it for self-defense. On or about April 8, 2009, Defendant Lanier denied Plaintiff Lyon's application to register a handgun for the following reason:

The intended storage and use of the firearm as stated on your firearms registration application, “carrying personal protection, keep at home or office” is unacceptable per the Firearms Registration Emergency Amendment Act of 2008,” which states that pistols may only be registered by D.C. residents for protection within the home.

Defendant Lanier subsequently approved Plaintiff Lyon's application to register the handgun for home self-defense.

At the time Plaintiffs filed this action, Plaintiff Raymond was not a resident of the District, was enrolled as a student in the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, was employed as a Patent Examiner and owned a home in Waldorf, Maryland. Plaintiff Raymond holds a Master of Business Administration degree as well as a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He has started various successful businesses and is an honorably discharged Navy veteran.

On April 6, 2007, District of Columbia Police stopped Plaintiff Raymond for allegedly speeding. At that time, Plaintiff Raymond held valid permits to carry a handgun issued by the states of Maryland and Florida and still holds those permits. Although Plaintiff Raymond was never charged with a traffic violation, he was charged with carrying a pistol without a license because his loaded handgun was located in his car's center console. Plaintiff Raymond subsequently pled guilty to misdemeanor possession of an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition. He successfully completed a sentence of probation.

Plaintiff Raymond would carry a functional handgun in public for self-defense while visiting and traveling through the District of Columbia but refrains from doing so because he fears another arrest and prosecution as well as fine and imprisonment as he does not possess a license to carry a handgun in the District of Columbia. On June 26, 2009, Plaintiff Raymond sought to register a handgun in the District of Columbia, but he was refused an application form because of his lack of residence in the District.

Plaintiff Amy McVey, a resident of the District, would carry a functional handgun in public for self-defense but refrains from doing so because she fears arrest, prosecution, fine, and imprisonment as she does not possess a license to carry a handgun in the District of Columbia. Plaintiff McVey is licensed by the state of Virginia to publicly carry a handgun.

Plaintiff McVey sought to register a handgun in the District of Columbia so that she could carry it for self-defense. On July 7, 2009, Defendant Lanier denied her application to register a handgun for the following reason:

The intended storage and use of the firearm as stated on your firearms registration application, “I intend to...

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    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • January 23, 2017
    ...to keep and bear arms for personal self-defense ... implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home"); Palmer v. Dist. of Columbia, 59 F.Supp.3d 173, 181–82 (D.D.C. 2014) (holding that Second Amendment right recognized in Hellerextends beyond home), withPeruta v. Cnty. of San Diego, ......
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    ...264 (D.C. Cir. 2015) ). In 2014, the district court struck down D.C.'s carrying ban, D.C. Code § 22-4504. See Palmer v. District of Columbia , 59 F. Supp. 3d 173 (D.D.C. 2014) (invalidating § 22-4504 (2013) (repealed 2015)), appeal withdrawn , No. 14-7180, 2015 WL 1607711 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 2,......
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    • May 17, 2016
    ...though subject to traditional restrictions, constitutes ‘bear[ing] Arms' within the meaning of the Second Amendment." 59 F.Supp.3d 173, 181–82 (D.D.C.2014) (quoting Peruta v. Cnty. of San Diego , 742 F.3d 1144, 1166 (9th Cir.2014) ) (alteration in original).2 He went on to hold that the Dis......
  • Wrenn v. Dist. of Columbia
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    ...I , the Council followed it with a ban on carrying. Id. § 22-4504 (2009). And when that was struck down in Palmer v. District of Columbia , 59 F.Supp.3d 173 (D.D.C. 2014), the Council responded with the law challenged here, which confines carrying a handgun in public to those with a special......
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    ...City of Chi., 561 U.S. 742, 749-50 (2010).58. Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933, 935 (7th Cir. 2012).59. Palmer v. District of Columbia, 59 F. Supp. 3d 173, 178 (D.D.C. 2014).60. Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650, 655 (D.C. Cir. 2017).61. Nikita Stewart & Bill Turque, D.C. Gun Ban Is......

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