Dick Heller, the lead plaintiff in the famous pro-gun Supreme Court case D.C. v. Heller, is returning to court to take on the anti-gun regime of the nation’s capital. This time, Heller is suing the district over its ban on private firearm manufacturing.
“The District has clearly not learned from its numerous defeats of in the courts, and this case arises from that predicament,” Heller says in a new lawsuit filed this week in D.C.’s U.S. District Court. “The District’s antipathy toward firearms, a Constitutional protected item, extends so far as to flatly prohibit the manufacture of a firearm in the District; not a particularly dangerous and unusual firearm, but any firearm.”
Like many cities in recent years, Washington, D.C., has instituted a ban on privately made firearms. According to District law, “no person or organization shall manufacture any firearm, destructive device or parts thereof, or ammunition, within the District.”
The city goes further to specifically ban “ghost gun” manufacture by outlawing unfinished frames or receivers that “without the expenditure of substantial time and effort be readily made into an operable frame or receiver through milling, drilling, or other means.”
Heller argues that this prohibition is a clear violation of Second Amendment rights. In one particularly salient paragraph, he compares the Second Amendment to the First to demonstrate the absurdity of D.C.’s laws.
“Imagine were the District to ban the act of publishing one’s own words. Would this court not see such a law as utterly invalid under any standard of review? Can there be any justification for an outright prohibition on the manufacture of a firearm, a Constitutionally protected item? Indeed, how can there be a right to keep and bear arms, if there’s no right to make an arm in the first place? This case presents that issue for this court’s consideration.”
If Heller’s case works its way up to the Supreme Court, it could impact other similar private gun bans throughout the country. San Francisco, for example, just passed its own ban on privately manufactured firearms.
The new law prohibits private individuals from possessing “materials” that have been “shaped or formed in any way for the purpose of becoming a frame or receiver of a firearm, rifle or shotgun and which may be readily made into a functional frame or receiver through milling, drilling or other means.”
This overly broad definition will theoretically sweep up a huge number of products and objects that would require extensive manufacturing knowledge to be converted into a firearm. San Franciscans, furthermore, will be charged for possessing those un-serialized “materials”—not just for converting those products into firearms.
“This ordinance is the first of its kind in the state of California, and this ordinance is very necessary and important,” said Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters at a September 7 Board of Supervisors meeting.
California law already requires those who manufacture their own firearms to apply for a serial number from the California Department of Justice. But Moulton-Peters believes this requirement is too permissive.
“Not many people do that. That rarely happens,” she said.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance unanimously, but if Heller wins his case at the Supreme Court level, it won’t be in place for long.