DC caves on ammunition limit for gun conceal carry permit holders
Dick Heller challenged the 20-round limit based on Supreme Court Bruen ruling
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Gun owners in Washington, D.C. won a round as the city on Wednesday gave up fighting a lawsuit brought by Dick Heller that challenged its 20-round ammunition limit for conceal carry permit holders.
“Last night I went out walking my dog and carried 31 rounds – rather than the 20 that I would otherwise carry,” George Lyon, a permit holder, told me in an interview.
Lyon is the lawyer who represents Dick Heller and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in June 2022 on ammunition limits. The preliminary motion for the lawsuit is attached at the bottom for paid subscribers to read.
I spoke to Dick Heller on Thursday. “It surprised me that it was so quick. But notwithstanding that, I shouldn’t have had to do it in the first place,” he said. “It was an arbitrary number for 20 rounds and they should have never been done.”
Heller brought the landmark 2008 Supreme Court case that protected the individual right to keep and bear arms.
“My clients feel this allows them to carry the amount of ammunition they think they need to protect themselves in one of the most violent cities in the country,” Lyon, of Arsenal Attorneys, said. “We are happy that another unconstitutional provision of D.C. firearm regulations has been repealed.”
It’s unclear how permit holders will be notified of the change. A Metropolitan Police Department spokesman said they will respond “shortly” to my email asking for information.
Supreme Court Bruen effect
The District folded as a direct result of their lawsuit which cites the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that says gun control laws have to have a precedent from the founding of the country. There were no laws on ammunition limits in the 1700s.
The Office of the Attorney General, the defendant in this current Heller v District of Columbia, was due to file a response on Thursday to the suit.
But just hours before, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee sent out an emergency rule that ordered the department to immediately stop enforcing the 2015 law that says conceal carry licensees can only carry 20 rounds. The police notice of rule-making filed is attached at the bottom.
The chief wrote that the repeal is due to the “welfare of District residents” and – the real motivation – “to avoid accruing liability for attorney fees in legal challenges.”
Contee said that the city was being challenged under the new terms of the Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.
“High capacity” magazines
The new ruling does not change the law that registered gun owners in D.C. can only have magazines that hold 10 rounds of ammunition.
Now, conceal carry permit holders can carry as much ammunition as they need, but they still can only use 10-round magazines. That law is being challenged in another lawsuit brought by Lyon, which I reported exclusively here.
There are currently multiple lawsuits around the country now that challenge the so-called high-capacity magazine laws based on the Bruen standards. Lyon said that the District likely made this last-minute change in light of all the cases.
“One of the purposes they have for repealing it is to avoid setting a precedent under Bruen,” Lyon explained. “This is a victory – a relatively minor victory – but it is nonetheless a victory.”
The Office of the Attorney General did not respond to a request for comment on his decision.
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