Judge Strikes Down DC Carry Law, "Good Reason" Provision Unconstitutional

Matt Vespa
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Posted: May 19, 2015 12:34 PM
Judge Strikes Down DC Carry Law, "Good Reason" Provision Unconstitutional

On Monday, a federal judge struck down DC’s concealed carry law, calling the requirement for applicants to show “a good reason to fear injury to his or her person, which shall at a minimum require a showing of a special need for self protection distinguishable from the general community” as unconstitutional. Applicants had to document threats to their personal safety as well. Judge Frederick Scullin, who also struck down DC’s ban on carrying firearms outside of one’s home last summer, issued a preliminary injunction after two D.C residents and one Floridian sued over the onerous statute (via WAMU):

…in February two D.C. residents and one Florida resident sued, claiming that they could not meet the standard set by the D.C. law and were thus being forbidden from exercising their Second Amendment rights. They were represented by Alan Gura, the pro-gun attorney who filed suit against the city for its concealed carry ban and also argued the 2008 Supreme Court case which ended the city's 30-year ban on all handgun ownership.

In today's ruling, Scullin largely agreed with the trio, arguing that city officials had not proven that keeping handguns to only those who could prove they faced a personal threat would advance a broader public interest.

"Simply put, the District of Columbia's 'good reason'/'proper reason' requirement will neither make it less likely that those who meet this requirement will present a risk to other members of the public or commit violent crimes than those who cannot meet this requirement," he wrote.

Scullin did not touch the other provisions of the law, which include strict limitations on where concealed guns can be carried. Under the city's law, the holder of a concealed handgun cannot enter government buildings, schools, libraries, most bars and restaurants, or use public transportation. They also have to stay 1,000 feet away from any U.S. or foreign dignitary.

"This conclusion should not be read to suggest that it would be inappropriate for the District of Columbia to enact a licensing mechanism that includes appropriate time, place and manner restrictions on the carrying of handguns in public," wrote Scullin.

But he has prohibited city officials from enforcing the "good reason" provision, meaning that unless a stay is granted, D.C. residents and visitors who meet the other provisions of the law — including 18 hours of training, and proof that they have not suffered a mental illness within the last five years — could soon more easily get concealed carry permits.

In a statement to WAMU 88.5, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine says he is reviewing the ruling. But, he adds, "we believe that the law passed by the Council is constitutionally valid."

Wrenn Opinion Prelim Injunction

The Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski documented his attempt to obtain a DC permit; he was denied for failing to meet the “good reason” provision. Right now, only eight people are allowed to carry a concealed firearm in DC out of a city whose population is close to 650,000.