When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the District of Columbia’s 32-year ban on handguns in 2008, it seemed to promise a more permissive era in America’s long tussle over gun ownership. But since then, the city has crafted rules that are proving a new, powerful deterrent to residents who want to buy firearms, reports the Wall Street Journal. Legal gun owners must be registered by the city, a red flag for many in the gun-rights community concerned that registration lists could be used to confiscate firearms. The District limits the number of bullets a gun can hold and the type of firearm residents can buy. It requires that by next year manufacturers sell guns equipped with a special identification technology–one that hasn’t yet been adopted by the industry.
The experience of Washington suggests a pro-gun ruling by the Supreme Court doesn’t mean an end to the matter. There, the battle over whether residents can own guns has been replaced by a fresh debate over whether lawmakers can restrict legal gun ownership. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting representative in Congress, is blunt about the point of the city’s laws: discouraging gun ownership. “To get them you have to go through a bureaucracy that makes it difficult,” she said in an interview. Her constituents tend to oppose firearms because of gun violence, she said.