D.C. Concealed Gun Law Struck Down For The Second Time In Two Years

Richard_J._Leon_220px-CriminologygunglockI 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

44 thoughts on “D.C. Concealed Gun Law Struck Down For The Second Time In Two Years”

  1. Yes, by all means, let’s not give any thought to the issue of gun possession. And while we’re at it, we can turn a blind eye to all the mass gun shootings, the next one of which should occur in five, four, three, two….

    1. Agua, the mass shootings are more a symptom of capitalism and the radical and anti-social competition it requires, the insurance underwriters who dictate health care and medications, and the general apathy encouraged under it.

      Highly-regulated capitalism and social welfare programs aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than a greed class and an excluded class.

  2. Steve,

    The proper focus of the Second Am should be placed on “well regulated” gun ownership being necessary to a free state.


    A “stupid nonlawyer” – your words, not mine.

    Also, b in attempting to evade the issue, you incorrectly charge me with a Strawman fallacy, which it is not. Pointing out that you only complain when it’s your ox that gets gored is a valid point. Ignoring it heightens your hypocrisy. How very rightwing of you.

    1. Agua deOro writes, “Steve, [t]he proper focus of the Second Am should be placed on “well regulated” gun ownership being necessary to a free state.”

      I have to disagree here. You’re placing “well regulated” out of context, i.e., it’s a a well-regulated militia, not well-regulated gun ownership. Additionally, your interpretation swallows “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” as if it’s the second amendment’s appendix that can be removed whenever it becomes painful and inflamed.

  3. stevegroen is spot on right. “… it’s not the applicant that needs to show good cause for the permit but the sheriff that needs to show good cause why the applicant shouldn’t receive the permit. A no-brainer to me if one is to be honest about the second amendment’s “shall not be infringed” language, which to me means that gun ownership shouldn’t even require a permit to carry.”

  4. This is good news for all of us in the 9th Circuit awaiting the en banc decision in the Peruta v. Gore case from here in San Diego. We’ve been waiting for more than a year for the decision of the full court after a 3-judge panel made the same ruling as the DC Circuit: that it’s not the applicant that needs to show good cause for the permit but the sheriff that needs to show good cause why the applicant shouldn’t receive the permit.

    A no-brainer to me if one is to be honest about the second amendment’s “shall not be infringed” language, which to me means that gun ownership shouldn’t even require a permit to carry.

  5. Agua,

    DC’s lawmakers are incoherent because they repeatedly lose when tested against the Constitution.
    Even stupid non-lawyers like me can see that.

    “It’s funny how you don’t seem to mind when…
    Straw man.

  6. G. Mason,
    Those ancient writings have no place in our sophisticated age. Haven’t we “progressed” beyond the silly need for the citizens to keep and bear arms? That whole 4th self-evident truth in the DoI doesn’t apply in this modern age anyway. We the People won’t need to “alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” because progressives have nearly completed that for us. So therefore the People should peacefully comply before someone gets hurt.

    [Sarcasm Off]

  7. I wonder why the busy plotters and strategists in the federal security infrastructure that seek to control various overseas states couldn’t spare some of the subterfuge to try and get a better group of puppets into the DC local government. They run the place like some third rate banana republic.

  8. Fleming,

    D.C.’s legal argument only appears incoherent to you because you have little or no understanding of the law. Stick to what you know, whatever that is. I’m sure there must be something…just not law, politics, and government. Sports maybe?

  9. Hey Pat,

    Do the country a favor and stay home if you’re that paranoid. You might want watch out for Skylab while you’re at it

  10. Fleming and Fleisher,

    It’s funny how you don’t seem to mind when the Bush Administration spent far more than D.C. did in this case (millions of dollars) to ferret three examples of voter fraud in national elections.

    Or when states give millions of dollars to private companies for drug testing aid recipients when there’s never been more than two or three percent of recipients that have tested positive. If government was run more like a business, no business spends millions of dollars to prevent hundreds of dollars in losses.

  11. Don D. Drain,

    The Federal Circuit needs higher caliber judges. Hats off to D.C. for addressing a serious health and safety issue.

    There is no such thing as an unfettered constitutional right. Free speech is limited by libel laws, certain types of “fighting words”, and speech that endangers lives, like shouting “Fire” in a movie theater fall outside of First Amendment protections.

    The Fifth Amendment can be voided by grants of immunity.

    Freedom of religion does not extend to human sacrifice, although the rightwing appears to have found a way around that with the Second Amendment.

  12. I totally agree with mostlyrighr70
    Maryland ( and the rest of the country )needs to respect the 2nd amendment before we have another mass shooting when an armed citizen could possibly have saved some lives.
    It’s only a matter of time until some terrorist or mentally deranged person strikes here.
    These people pick targets where they can do the most damage before anyone can intervene.
    The police can’t be there until it is too late.
    My home is protected by Smith and Wesson, but I feel vulnerable traveling.

  13. KCFleming

    Good point. Another example of how easy it is to spend other people’s money.

  14. The British are coming. Arm all the bears and hand out some towels to the dumb Brits.

  15. Congress shall create no municipality that curtails the right to bear arms!

  16. They will simply take the matter to the Supreme Court and then start over again with a new ordinance that takes years to strike down.

    The DC City Council’s actions in this case is one of the reasons why many states preempt firearms and other laws from being enacted by municipalities.

  17. ” As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
    — Tench Coxe (1755–1824), writing as “A Pennsylvanian,” in “Remarks On The First Part Of The Amendments To The Federal Constitution,” in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789, p. 2 col. 1

    “[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually…I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor…”
    —George Mason in Debates in Virginia Convention

    “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.”- Pennsylvania’s Constitution of 1790

    “[O]ne loves to possess arms, tho they hope never to have occasion for them.”
    — Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1796.

    “The defence of one’s self, justly called the primary law of nature, is not, nor can it be abrogated by any regulation of municipal law.”
    — James Wilson, Of the Natural Rights of Individuals, in 2 The Works of James Wilson 335 (J.D. Andrews ed. 1896). (From a series of lectures given between 1790 and 1792.)

    “We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed;”
    —Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824.

    “When a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise the original rights of self defense – to fight the government.” – Alexander Hamilton The Federalist Papers, No. 28

    “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”- Ben Franklin

    “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons entrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. ” Alexander Hamilton -The Federalist Papers

    “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”- Patrick Henry

    “O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone…Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation…inflicted by those who had no power at all?” Patrick Henry in support of the Bill of Rights

    The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals…[I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.
    —Albert Gallatin to Alexander Addison, Oct 7, 1789, MS. in N.Y. Hist. Soc.-A.G. Papers, 2.

    [C]onceived it to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made. The particular states, like private citizens, have a right to be armed, and to defend, by force of arms, their rights, when invaded.
    14 Debates in the House of Representatives, ed. Linda Grand De Pauw. (Balt., Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972), 92-3.- Roger Sherman 1790

    ” The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”
    Samuel Adams

    “[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.” Zacharia Johnson 1788

    [W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.
    —Richard Henry Lee, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

    “The militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, … all men capable of bearing arms;…”
    — “Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic”, 1788 (either Richard Henry Lee or Melancton Smith).

    “Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People.”
    — Tench Coxe, 1788.

    “If circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”- Alexander Hamilton – The Federalist Papers

    “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them.” –Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787

    “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” Samuel Adams

    “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship…The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable. The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for their common good; nor for applying to the legislature by petitions or remonstrances for redress of their grievances…The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” James Madison

    “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” George Washington

    “Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.” –Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819

    “The contest for all ages has been to rescue Liberty from the grasp of executive power.”
    Daniel Webster 1834

    “If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.”- Alexander Hamilton

    “My great objection to this government is, that it does not leave us the means of defending our rights, or of waging war against tyrants.”- Patrick Henry before the Bill of Rights was added

    “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed as they
    are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America
    cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the
    people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular
    troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.” Noah Webster 1787

    “Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.”- James Madison

    “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government,
    our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
    Samuel Adams, 1776

    “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” -Patrick Henry

    “There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.” (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, #78

    “The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” Thomas Paine

    “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.” (Alexander Hamilton)

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