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DC council passes legislation increasing gun owner requirements

[JURIST] The Council of the District of Columbia [official website] passed legislation [introduction, PDF] Tuesday increasing the requirements of gun owners in Washington, DC. The legislation contains a number of provisions that the city council hopes will make it more difficult for criminals obtain weapons [NYT report] and make it easier for law enforcement officers to track them down. The requirements include owners registering their weapon every three years, receiving five hours of training from a qualified instructor, and undergoing a background check every six years. In addition, the legislation provides that by 2011 certain weapons will be marked to facilitate law enforcement officers in finding violent offenders. The National Rifle Association (NRA) [advocacy website] believes that the legislation is another example [AP report] of the Council trying to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own guns.

In June, the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] prohibited [JURIST report] the District of Columbia from banning private handgun ownership in the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller [opinion, PDF]. The Court found that the Second Amendment bestows upon citizens an individual right to own firearms for lawful purposes. The ruling has not stopped the Council from trying to control gun ownership. Since June, the Council has passed measures to limit the types of weapons that citizens can own, as well as the circumstances under which they are allowed to own them, including a resolution [text, PDF] passed in September to restrict the use of guns in the home to self defense purposes.

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