WASHINGTON — Lawyers for the District of Columbia asked a federal judge on Monday to stay his ruling that strikes down the city’s ban on carrying handguns outside the home.
Attorney General Irvin Nathan filed a motion on behalf of the city and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, asking for a stay of at least 180 days to allow the D.C. Council to pass a licensing law that complies with the ruling. He also requested an immediate stay in the interest of public safety.
Meanwhile, Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray plans to draft legislation that would comply with the ruling, which the city may appeal. Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Gray, said the mayor doesn’t want to wait for the appeals process to play out before exploring what legislative steps would be needed.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin was made public Saturday. Following the ruling, Lanier instructed officers not to arrest District residents carrying registered firearms or visitors who have permission to carry guns in their home states.
The Supreme Court struck down the city’s 32-year-old ban on handguns in 2008. The city then rewrote its laws, requiring residents to register their guns and keep them in their homes.
The following year, the Washington state-based Second Amendment Foundation and four individuals filed a lawsuit arguing that they should be allowed to carry guns for protection.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs are not opposed to a 90-day stay, provided that the city passes a law that complies with the ruling, according to the city’s motion.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the office was reviewing what effect the ruling would have on existing gun prosecutions.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said that if the city is forced to grant licenses for carrying handguns in public, it will have to proceed carefully.
“Because of the District’s unique national security concerns, the right to carry a handgun in public must be more heavily restricted than anywhere else in the nation,” said Mendelson, a Democrat.
Since the handgun ban was struck down, the heavily Democratic District has passed strict gun-control laws. In addition to the ban on carrying handguns outside the home, residents must register their handguns every three years, complete a safety course and be fingerprinted and photographed.
Earlier this month, Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky added an amendment to a spending bill that would strike down those requirements, although he conceded the amendment is unlikely to become law.