Angelo v. D.C.
Supporting D.C.’s law banning handguns in public transportation.
Case Information: Angelo et al. v. District of Columbia, D.D.C. 1:22-cv-01878-RDM (United States District Court, District of Columbia, brief filed September 23, 2022)
At Issue: Concealed-carry license holders who use the District of Columbia’s public transit systems are challenging the District’s law banning handguns in public transportation vehicles. The plaintiffs claim public transit is not a sensitive place and that they have a Second Amendment right to carry guns on buses and trains. They have asked the Court to declare the law unconstitutional and have sought preliminary and permanent injunctions preventing its enforcement.
Our Brief: Together with Brady, Team ENOUGH, and March For Our Lives, we urge the Court to deny an injunction and to uphold the D.C. law because public transit is a sensitive place where banning guns is consistent with the Second Amendment’s protections.
Recent Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen affirmed that prohibiting guns in so-called “sensitive places” is constitutional. Heller provided examples such as schools and government buildings; Bruen added that courts could consider the types of places where guns have been prohibited throughout the nation’s history “to determine that modern regulations [concerning] analogous sensitive places are constitutionally permissible.” History shows broad authority to regulate firearms based on location, with state laws in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries banning guns at fairs, markets, elections, and various categories of buildings. As technology has advanced, many local and federally regulated transit systems have imposed similar restrictions on guns.
D.C.’s law is consistent with historical gun regulations and reflects the physical characteristics and compelling public safety rationales that make public transit a sensitive place. Requiring the District to allow handguns on buses and rail lines–enclosed and often crowded spaces with limited means of escape–would substantially increase the number of guns carried and the risk of gun fatalities in public spaces frequented by children, government employees, and tourists from around the world. We argue that this result is not constitutionally required and would undercut D.C.’s ability to use commonsense regulations to address the persistent and rising gun violence that threatens the safety of public transportation, as illustrated by shootings this year at a Metrorail station and on a Metrobus. Riders depend on public transit to access many historically and politically important gathering places and undisputedly sensitive locations in our nation’s capital. The Metro system is free for the District’s elementary and secondary students and many children rely on it to go to school. D.C. has every reason to treat the transportation vehicles that are essential to public access to its sensitive places, as sensitive places themselves.
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