DC Ordered to Pay Millions: A Groundbreaking Moment for Gun Rights

AP Photo/Mark Tenally

Here’s another win for gun rights and the Second Amendment. Washington, D.C., which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, is going to be shelling out big bucks for abusing those exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

This is yet another case showing that using the court system against government entities seeking to violate our natural rights is a highly effective weapon for liberty.

D.C. has been ordered to pay millions of dollars to people it arrested for carrying firearms in the district.

D.C. will pay $5.1 million as part of a class-action settlement with gun owners who were arrested under laws that have since been found to violate the Second Amendment, according to the settlement agreement.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth gave preliminary approval to the settlement agreement on Monday following years of litigation. Lamberth had previously ruled in September 2021 that D.C. arrested, jailed, prosecuted and seized guns from six people “based on an unconstitutional set of laws” and violated their Second Amendment rights.

The laws — a ban on carrying handguns outside the home and others that effectively banned nonresidents from carrying guns at all in D.C. — have since been struck down in federal court. They were part of a “gun control regime that completely banned carrying handguns in public,” Lamberth wrote in the 2021 ruling.

Now, D.C. will pay a total of $300,000 to the six plaintiffs and $1.9 million in attorneys fees, with the majority of the rest of the money set aside for more than 3,000 people estimated to qualify for the class-action.

One of those arrested was a North Carolina nurse named Maggie Smith, who was arrested for having a pistol in her vehicle while driving in D.C. Despite having no criminal record and being licensed in her home state, the police seized her firearm and put her behind bars.

The district argued that the victims should have done proper research on gun laws in the city. However, Judge Lamberth was not buying that. “There were no actions that the plaintiffs could have taken during the time period in question that would have allowed them to carry a gun for self-defense in the District of Columbia,” he wrote in his 2021 ruling.

This ruling is not only a major legal victory for gun rights but could also set a precedent for other areas of the country whose governments do not believe in upholding the Second Amendment. It highlights the legal vulnerabilities of restrictive gun control laws and might embolden others to challenge these measures in other jurisdictions. The court’s decision provides a valuable counterpoint to the trend of supporting more restrictions on firearms.

The district has been at the epicenter of the battle for gun rights for decades. The landmark 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller invalidated its ban on handguns and set the stage for more court decisions that have chipped away at D.C.’s gun laws. This case, along with the New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, has added momentum to the effort to safeguard gun rights.

This ruling is critical for those living in and traveling to D.C., which has long been one of the most dangerous cities in the country:

With a crime rate of 51 per one thousand residents, Washington has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes - from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One's chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 20.

Unfortunately, the district’s gun laws, and those in other cities and states, make people more vulnerable to violent criminals, who have no regard for legislation telling them they are not allowed to possess firearms. This ruling will make it easier for responsible gun owners to defend themselves when it becomes necessary, which is a significant step toward protecting life and liberty.



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