The fight over Second Amendment rights in the nation’s capital has entered a new phase. A federal judge has ruled that the city’s “good reason" provision within their concealed carry law is likely unconstitutional, as stated in the injunction order issued on Tuesday (via WaPo):
A federal judge has ruled that a key provision of the District’s new gun law is likely unconstitutional, ordering D.C. police to stop requiring individuals to show “good reason” to obtain a permit to carry a firearm on the streets of the nation’s capital.
In imposing a preliminary injunction pending further litigation, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon reignited a running battle over the Second Amendment in the District and its courts where three different judges have now weighed in with varying conclusions.
“The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table,” Leon wrote in a 46-page opinion, quoting a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 in another District case that established a constitutional right to keep firearms in one’s home.
Leon’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed last year by a District gun-owner, Matthew Grace, and gun-rights group Pink Pistols. The plaintiffs alleged that the D.C. gun law violates the core Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense, including protecting themselves from non-specific threats and threats that arise unexpectedly.
David Thompson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said Leon got it right in finding that the Constitution includes a right to carry firearms. “The District of Columbia cannot parcel out Constitutional rights to a select few of its choosing,” Thompson said. “That’s not how the Constitution works in this country.”
Judge Leon is not amused by D.C. attorneys' suggestion that 2nd Amendment "has no intrinsic value." pic.twitter.com/6sQKIgLk5t— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) May 17, 2016
In 2014, Judge Frederick Scullin of the New York District Court ruled in Palmer v. DC that the District of Columbia’s ban on carrying firearms outside of the home was unconstitutional. For a very brief period, the city honored constitutional carry per the order of DC Police Chief Lanier until new legislation could be drafted to accommodate the ruling. The Palmer decision was handed down on July 27, 2014. At the time, Katie wrote that a 90-day stay was handed down two days later, with the defendants filing a partially unopposed motion in support of the judgment, along with agreeing to the 90-day timeframe.
District of Columbia's total ban on the carrying of handguns in public was unconstitutional; and, therefore, the Court permanently enjoined Defendants from enforcing D.C. Code §§ 7-2502(a)(4) and 22-4504(a). On July 28, 2014, Defendants filed a partially unopposed motion to stay pending appeal or, in the alternative, for 180 days and for immediate administrative stay.
In support of this motion, Defendants' counsel advised the Court that he had conferred with Plaintiffs' counsel, "who indicated that [P]laintiffs do not oppose a 90-day stay starting immediately 'pending the city council enacting remedial legislation that complies with constitutional standards.'
The new concealed carry law went into effect on October 22, 2014; the day the stay would expire. Yet, there were still stringent standards that many would view as unconstitutional, especially the “good reason” provision, wherein the applicant must tell the city why they must have a carry permit. The city could arbitrarily reject them, as D.C. has a “may issue” carry law. To give some clarity on how absurd may issue carry states operate, just look at Fox Business’ John Stossel’s odyssey to obtain a carry permit in New York. It took him eight and a half months, and a $430 processing fee, for his application process to end with a letter of rejection from the New York City Police Department.
This post has been updated.