In an opinion from the District Court for the District of Columbia by Judge Urbina, the court upheld the District’s gun ban. (H/T Tony Mauro)
Of special interest, is that the Court decided to apply intermediate scrutiny. This was a question left unresolved in Heller, and was a position advanced by the Solicitor General in 2008:
For the reasons explained below, this court joins numerous other courts in concludingthat intermediate scrutiny is the appropriate standard of review. As an initial matter, the courtrejects the defendants’ contention that the “reasonableness test” should be applied to SecondAmendment challenges in the post-Heller era. The reasonableness test, as the defendantscharacterize it, would require the court to uphold a law regulating firearms so long as thelegislature had “articulated proper reasons for acting, with meaningful supporting evidence,” andthe measure did “not interfere with the ‘core right’ the Second Amendment protects by deprivingthe people of reasonable means to defend themselves in their homes.” Defs.’ Cross-Mot. at 15.Prior to Heller, this was the test used almost uniformly by state courts. See id. at 18.In Heller, however, the Court emphasized for the first time that some form of heightened scrutiny is necessary in light of the fact that the right at issue is a specific, constitutionally enumerated right.Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2817 & n.27. The reasonableness test subjects firearms laws to only amarginally more heightened form of review than rational-basis review.
The court cited Adam Winkler’s Pre-Heller article to articulate the relevant standard of review.
[w]hile there is a difference in focus between [the reasonableness test and rationalbasisreview], in ordinary practice both standards are extremely deferential. Rationalbasis review has been characterized as “virtually none in fact” because nearly everylaw subject to it survives judicial scrutiny. Similarly, nearly all laws survive thereasonable regulation standard, thus giving wide latitude to legislatures. As theIllinois Supreme Court noted, the right to bear arms is subject to “substantialinfringement.” Like rational basis, the reasonable regulation standard tends to be,more than anything else, shorthand for broad judicial deference. Adam Winkler, Scrutinizing the Second Amendment, 105 MICH. L. REV. 683, 718-19 (2007).
The court though rejects Justice Breyer’s interest balancing approach:
Because the court believes that the reasonableness test would subject the contested provisions to a more lenient measure of scrutiny than that envisioned by the Heller Court, the court rejects the defendants’ assertion that the reasonableness test applies to laws regulating firearms in the post- Heller era.Nor does the court read Heller as advocating a test akin to the “undue burden” test used inthe abortion context. The Heller majority squarely rejected Justice Breyer’s proposed “interestbalancing”framework, under which courts would “ask whether the statute burdens a protectedinterest in a way or to an extent that is out of proportion to the statute’s salutary effects uponother important governmental interests.” Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2821.
The court expressly rejected strict scrutiny:
As many courts have recognized, the Supreme Court did not explicitly hold that theSecond Amendment right is a fundamental right, despite the fact that it stated that “[b]y the timeof the founding, the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects” and notedthat Blackstone “cited the arms provision of the Bill of Rights as one of the fundamental rights ofEnglishmen.” Id. at 2798. If the Supreme Court had wanted to declare the Second Amendmentright a fundamental right, it would have done so explicitly. The court will not infer such asignificant holding based only on the Heller majority’s oblique references to the gun ownershiprights of eighteenth-century English subjects.…Moreover, as the Heller dissent and numerous other courts and legal scholars havepointed out, a strict scrutiny standard of review would not square with the majority’s referencesto “presumptively lawful regulatory measures” such as laws prohibiting firearms possession byfelons and the mentally ill, forbidding the carrying of firearms in schools or governmentbuildings and imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
In summary, here is the test the court proffers:
In sum, to assess the constitutionality of each of the challenged provisions, the court willbegin by determining whether the provision at issue implicates the core Second Amendmentright. If it does not, then the court will uphold the regulation. If the regulation does, however,implicate the core Second Amendment right, the court will apply intermediate scrutiny todetermine whether the measure is substantially related to an important governmental interest.