For the second time in less than a year, the District of Columbia is amending its gun laws in the face of a legal challenge from Dick Heller.
The Chief of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department on Wednesday adopted an emergency repeal of the city’s ban on carrying more than twice the number of rounds of ammunition a licensed individual’s gun can hold. He did so to head off a looming decision on a possible injunction under the new Bruen standard for reviewing gun cases, brought by Heller.
“On review of these developments, this regulation, its enforcement history, and in consideration of other regulations that govern concealed-carry licensees, the Chief has determined that emergency rulemaking action is prudent and necessary for the immediate preservation of the welfare of District residents and to enable the District to avoid accruing liability for attorney fees in legal challenges,” the city wrote in a legal filing notifying the court of the change.
Heller told The Reload he was unsurprised at the result of his challenge to the District’s ammunition limit.
“The surprise was the speed at which this complaint was dispelled,” he said.
Heller called the District’s gun restrictions “arbitrary” and “irrational” and said they only serve to “ensure bad guys can prey on un-protected residents.”
The decision will impact all gun owners licensed to carry a firearm in the District by immediately removing the previous 20-round cap that had governed licensed gun owners since the mid-1970s. Licensed gun owners will now be free to carry as much spare ammunition as they wish, provided that it meets the District’s other ammunition regulations. The rule change does not impact the District’s 10-round limit on magazine capacity.
The rule change also marks yet another legal victory for Heller, the namesake for the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling striking down D.C.’s total ban on handguns. Since achieving legal success in that landmark case, Heller has been on a crusade against many of the District’s other gun restrictions. He has now sued D.C. five separate times in an effort to see various gun laws struck down in court.
His latest legal wins against the District have not come from formal legal decisions, but rather out of fear of them. D.C. enacted the emergency rule rescinding its gun carry ammunition limit just two days before it was due to submit a brief justifying the regulation under the Bruen test. Much like this latest decision, the District voted to amend its “ghost gun” ban last November at the behest of Attorney General Karl Racine (D.), who hoped to head off an unfavorable ruling. That case too was brought forward by Heller.
Heller and his legal team agreed to stay the case until next month following the law change in order to work out a possible settlement with the District.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine did not respond to a request for comment.