Washington, D.C., sought to halt temporarily a federal court ruling allowing thousands of city residents with registered handguns as well as legal gun owners from other states to carry firearms on the streets of the nation's capital, reports the Washington Post. The ruling, which upended the city's decades-old restrictions on carrying handguns in public, created confusion and concern as officials grappled with its implications. The law was declared unconstitutional in an opinion released over the weekend, leaving police scrambling to give clear direction to officers.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told officers they could no longer stop someone simply for carrying a gun in public; they would need suspicion that a crime had been committed. For visitors who carry guns into the city, police will need to determine whether they are following the laws of their home state. “We understand that the immediate implementation of this ruling creates safety concerns for our members and our community,” Lanier wrote to police officers yesterday. She instructed them to “continue to serve the best interest of public safety while respecting individual rights.” D.C. officials have argued that the gun law — among the strictest in the nation — has been a pillar of their public safety strategy in a city that has historically been beset by gun violence. Mayor Vincent Gray appealed to people who live elsewhere to refrain from bringing guns into the city.