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D.C. Appeals Court Stuck on Who Has Authority in Gun Case
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Summary: A visiting judge that oversaw a similar case ruled on a recent Washington D.C. gun licensing case, but the opposing side believes the judge did not have the proper authority to rule.

Washington D.C. has been trying to enforce a provision on their District’s gun law, but a judge has stopped it, saying it impinges on resident’s Second Amendment rights. Now a federal appeals court dealing with the issue is debating who should preside over the case.


The provision required a person to provide a “good reason” to carry a firearm while in the nation’s capital. When visiting judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. from New York made the ruling, he may have lacked the authority to do such.

In 2011, Scullin had been chosen to help with the federal courthouse’s backlog. His work included another case challenging the city’s ban on carrying firearms while in public. The attorney general’s office in D.C. says his authority ended with that case.

Second Amendment Foundation attorney Alan Gura, who brought the case against the District, contends that Scullin’s appointment for the federal courthouse was not “time-limited” and the city failed to raise the issue when the case started. Deputy Solicitor General Loren L. AliKhan has asked the case to be sent back to District Court and have a D.C. judge preside over it.

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The appeals court noted that it is common for judges to take on cases that are related to ones they have already seen, so it was consistent for Scullin to have been given this case. Gura is trying to argue that Scullin had an “absolute obligation” to take a related case, but the appeals court was not so sure.

As of now, Washington D.C. can continue to enforce the law, allowing police to only license those that show a “good reason to fear injury” by “evidence of specific threats or previous attacks.”




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