Second Amendment advocates won a significant court battle Tuesday against the District of Columbia’s “good reason” requirements for gun carrying in the nation’s capital.
A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of such a requirement in Washington, D.C., declaring by a 2-1 margin that requiring citizens to have a “good reason” to carry a firearm is patently unconstitutional.
The District of Columbia does issue non-resident licenses, so the ruling has a far-reaching impact beyond just the residents of the capital city. Millions of visitors to the nation’s capital each year will now be able to apply for a carrying permit as well as residents.
The majority opinion, written by Judge Thomas Beall Griffith, a 2005 George W. Bush appointee, declared:
“At the Second Amendment’s core lies the right of responsible citizens to carry firearms for personal self-defense beyond the home, subject to longstanding restrictions. … The District’s good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents. That’s enough to sink this law under (the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller ruling).”
“Today’s ruling contains some powerful language that affirms what we have argued for years, that requiring a so-called ‘good cause’ to exercise a constitutionally protect right does not pass the legal smell test,” said Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, the plaintiff in the case.
“We’re particularly pleased that the opinion makes it clear that the Second Amendment’s core generally covers carrying in public for self-defense,” he added. “This has been a long legal battle, Justice delayed is justice denied. Today, justice was served.”
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told WND the law was a de facto gun ban that affected all law-abiding people in D.C.
“Overturning the de facto D.C. gun ban on constitutional grounds is very welcome. Not only does it respect the Constitution, it will result in fewer crimes of violence in the District,” he said.
Judge Stephen F. Williams joined Griffith in the decision.
Judge Karen Henderson was the lone dissenter, writing that the district’s regulation “passes muster” because of the district’s unique security challenges as the nation’s capital and because it does not affect the right to keep a firearm at home.
Pratt blasted Henderson, saying she missed the entire point of the lawsuit.
“Judge Henderson’s statement in favor of the D.C. law is insulting, namely that it is enough to have a gun at home,” Pratt said. “Keeping a gun at home is like keeping a car in the garage – even though we need our gun and our car much more away from home. King George had a similar view of the right to keep and bear arms. That’s why we fought his soldiers. I’m glad it did not come to that with Judge Henderson.”
The Appellate Court heard two different cases challenging D.C.’s “may issue” tactic, which many believe sets the table for complete rejection of individual gun-carrying rights.
Wrenn v. D.C., which was backed by Gottlieb’s Second Amendment Foundation, and Grace v. D.C., which was backed by the LGBT gun-rights organization Pink Pistols.
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Both plaintiffs had sought an injunction against enforcing the District’s “good reason” requirement for the issuance of gun-carry licenses. A lower-court judge denied Wrenn’s request last March, but a different judge granted Grace’s request (but stayed the order pending appeal.) The D.C. Circuit combined the two cases.
The 31-page majority opinion also said that the District’s “good cause” requirement was essentially designed to prevent the exercise of the right to bear arms by most District residents. Thus, it amounts to a complete prohibition, and that does not pass muster under the 2008 Heller ruling that struck down the District’s 30-year handgun ban.
“The good-reason law,” Judge Griffith wrote, “is necessarily a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun in the face of ordinary self-defense needs …”
“To read the majority opinion and not come away convinced that such ‘good reason’ or ‘good cause’ requirements are just clever ways to prevent honest citizens from exercising their rights is not possible,” Gottlieb said. “To say we are delighted with the ruling would be an understatement. We are simply more encouraged to keep fighting, winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”
John R. Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center called the decision huge.
Right now, there are about 124 concealed handgun permit holders in D.C., Lott told Fox News.
“If D.C. were like the 42 right-to-carry states, they would have about 48,000 permits. Right now, D.C. prevents the most vulnerable people, particularly poor blacks who live in high-crime areas of D.C., from having any hope of getting a permit for protection.