The District of Columbia on Tuesday appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that struck down the city's 30-year-old ban on private handgun ownership.

A federal appeals court panel overturned the ban in March, concluding that the city's broad gun law was unconstitutional. Mayor Adrian Fenty said the law is badly needed to stem crime in the city. He said the only possible outcome of having more handguns in the city is more violence.

The district's appeal to the Supreme Court had been expected.

Washington's gun law bars residents from keeping handguns in their homes and prohibits the carrying of a gun without a license. Registered firearms such as rifles and shotguns must be kept unloaded and disassembled or fitted with trigger locks.

The law remains in effect during the appeals process, but if the Supreme Court refuses to take the case, the lower court ruling overturning the city law would go into effect, forcing D.C. to rewrite its gun laws.