The Second Amendment may take on new meaning in the District since gun shops are now legal in Washington, D.C., as close to the university as M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The sale of guns was prohibited in the District until June 2008, when the Supreme Court overturned the District’s ban in a dramatic 5-4 decision, stating that the populace had a right to own hand guns under the Constitution. Since then, the D.C. Council has been working to create legislation that will keep citizens safe without infringing on their rights.

“The Council held multiple hearings and took into account the comments and concerns of citizens and other interested parties,” said Vincent Gray, chairman of the D.C. Council.

The new legislation, which was adopted in December, permits the registration of handguns, but places restrictions on who can own them. Among other stipulations, people who have a history of violent behavior, those who have been committed to a mental institution within the past five years, or those who have committed a felony are prohibited from owning a gun. Additionally, would-be gun owners must undergo an FBI background check and participate in a five-hour training session.

“The purpose is to preclude people with predilection toward violence from being permitted to have a firearm,” said Phil Mendelson, an at-large member on the D.C. Council.

The new bill requires that no person register more than one handgun in any 30-day period and that the weapons not be carried in public; the bill is meant to allow persons to defend themselves within their own homes. It also establishes penalties for guns stored within the reach of children.

In order to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, the D.C. Zoning Commission adopted a temporary emergency measure allowing gun shops to open in all four quadrants of the city, while placing restrictions on the locations of the shops. They are only allowed in industrial and commercial zones and not within 300 feet of a school, library, playground, church or home.

Near the university these areas are “a cluster of parcels off Wisconsin Avenue just north of McLean Gardens, another plot off Wisconsin near Observatory Circle, and a small piece of M Street in Georgetown, again near Wisconsin Avenue,” according to The Examiner.

It remains unclear whether these particular boundaries will remain in place. The Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on March 20 to discuss the current restrictions.

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