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Washington DC police launch voluntary handgun search program

[JURIST] Washington DC police are launching a new voluntary program to reduce the number of guns in the city after the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] last month that a city ban on private handgun ownership violated the Second Amendment [text] to the US Constitution. Under the Safe Homes Initiative [Washington Post report], police will ask residents for permission to search their homes for guns and residents will receive amnesty from prosecution for any weapons confiscated under the program. Critics allege that the program could amount to a violation of the Fourth Amendment [text] right against unreasonable search and seizure if homeowners are intimidated into allowing the searches. The Washington DC chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] has distributed flyers [DOC text] advising DC residents of their constitutional rights. NBC has more.

Other cities are considering similar programs following the Supreme Court ruling. Gun ownership advocacy groups have filed lawsuits in Chicago and San Francisco [court documents; JURIST report] seeking to overturn laws which ban handguns within those cities. In September 2007, Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and DC Attorney General Linda Singer [official profiles] formally appealed a March 2007 federal court ruling which invalidated the District of Columbia's handgun ban [JURIST reports]. The Supreme Court affirmed a March DC Circuit holding [opinion, PDF] that the city's 30-year-old ban on private possession of handguns was unconstitutionally broad.

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