I have been critical of the continuing refusal of the D.C. city council to adhere to the rulings of the United States Supreme Court on the Second Amendment. Nevertheless, the city continues to fund unsuccessful litigation that seems entirely detached from the controlling constitutional standard in cases like Heller. We previously discussed the prior defeat of the D.C. law curtailing guns rights. Now for the second time in two years, a federal court has enjoined the enforcement of the city’s concealed-carry law. In this case, the city imposes a standard that applicants must state “good reason” to carry a weapon in order to obtain a permit from police. In a 46-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, the court declared the District’s gun-permitting system is likely unconstitutional. This law was the response to the court striking down the prior law in 2014.
The challenge was brought by Matthew Grace and a shooting group called the Pink Pistols. The city required that he show a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or another “proper reason” for carrying the weapon. You can cite various reasons like a personal threat, or a job that requires a person to carry or protect cash or valuables to seek approval.
Leon held that “Because the right to bear arms includes the right to carry firearms for self-defense both in and outside the home, I find that the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement likely places an unconstitutional burden on this right.”
On that basis, Leon found substantial likelihood that the plaintiffs would prevail on the merits and granted the temporary injunction. It is a thoughtful and persuasive decision (linked below).
The irony is that, starting with Heller itself, the D.C. government has repeatedly made some of the worst law for those seeking to limit gun possession. Yet the city continues to litigate with abandon in raking up defeats in the area. That may not be viewed as favorably by cities and states looking for the optimal test cases and arguments to limit the scope of Heller.
Here is the opinion: Grace decision