A civil lawsuit has been filed in federal court on behalf of six residents of Washington, D.C., who want their rights to have firearms in their homes restored, announced the Cato Institute.

Robert A. Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies for Cato, and Gene Healy, the group’s senior editor, are joined by two D.C.-based attorneys in filing the action.

“The Second Amendment guarantees individuals a fundamental right to possess a functional, personal firearm, such as a handgun … within the home,” the complaint said. But D.C. officials “enforce a set of laws [that] deprive individuals, including the plaintiffs, of this important right.”

A statement from the Cato Institute mentions that the think tank itself is not involved in the litigation.

Said the statement: “The D.C. city council, which is controlled by Congress and indisputably constrained by the Second Amendment, has enacted one of the most draconian gun bans in the nation. No handgun can be registered in the District. Even pistols registered prior to D.C.’s 1976 ban cannot be carried from room to room in the home without a license. Moreover, all firearms in the home must be unloaded and either disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock. In effect, no one in D.C. can possess a functional firearm in his or her own residence.”

The lead plaintiff, Shelly Parker, resides in a high-crime neighborhood, explained the Cato statement, and has been threatened by drug dealers. She would like to possess a handgun in her home for self-defense, but fears arrest, prosecution, incarceration and fines because of D.C.’s gun-control laws.

According to Cato, a second plaintiff is a special police officer who carries a handgun to provide security for the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center. But when he applied for permission to possess a handgun within his home, the D.C. government turned him down. Other plaintiffs include a homosexual man who, according to the statement, has been assaulted because he is a homosexual, and the owner of a registered shotgun who cannot lawfully render her gun operational.

The plaintiffs want the federal court to prevent D.C. from barring the registration of handguns, banning the possession of functional firearms within the home, and forbidding firearms from being carried from room to room without a license.

“This is not about carrying a machine gun on the streets,” said Levy. “It’s about having a garden-variety handgun in your own home.”

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