Court of Appeals Denies Rehearing Request For D.C.’s Struck-Down Concealed Carry Law

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a surprising decision yesterday on the District’s request for a full hearing of their concealed carry law, which a 3 judge panel had struck down in July: the Court denied the request, and the ruling stands for now.

Back in July, we reported that the Circuit Court had surprisingly struck down the District’s concealed carry law by a 2 to 1 vote. The main issue at stake was whether the District’s “good cause” requirement to obtain a permit to carry violates the Second Amendment.

The Court agreed that it does.

“The good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun in the face of ordinary self-defense needs,” Griffith wrote in the 38-page opinion. “Bans on the ability of most citizens to exercise an enumerated right would have to flunk any judicial test.”

Additionally, Griffith discussed the idea that the right to bear arms and the need for self-defense is only legitimate inside the home:

But the fact that the need for self-defense is most pressing in the home doesn’t mean that self-defense at home is the only right at the Amendment’s core. After all, the Amendment’s “core lawful purpose” is self-defense, id. at 630, and the need for that might arise beyond as well as within the home. Moreover, the Amendment’s text protects the right to “bear” as well as “keep” arms. For both reasons, it’s more natural to view the Amendment’s core as including a law abiding citizen’s right to carry common firearms for self defense beyond the home (subject again to relevant “longstanding” regulations like bans on carrying “in sensitive places”).

Surprisingly, no judge on the Court requested that the case be reheard, and on Thursday the Court officially decided not to rehear the case. This is rather surprising, as the D.C. Court is a more Left-leaning court; one would think they would want any chance to reinstate a restriction on the right to bear arms.

Alan Gura, the litigation attorney who argued the landmark Heller and McDonald cases, applauded the decision to leave the panel’s decision.

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that the District of Columbia now must decide if they will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Washington, D.C., said it is deciding whether or not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court but has advised the Metropolitan Police Department to continue enforcing the “good reason” clause until the appeals court orders otherwise.

“We are disappointed by the full D.C. Circuit’s decision not to rehear our case,” Attorney General Racine said in a statement. “As we review options for next steps in consultation with the Mayor, the Council and the Metropolitan Police Department, our primary concern will be ensuring public safety through reasonable gun laws.”
Gun-rights activists celebrated the court’s decision.

The National Rifle Association, which filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs, said the decision was a win for law-abiding D.C. residents.

Chris Cox, Executive Director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, issued a statement following the appeals court’s decision.

“We applaud the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for reaffirming the rights of ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry firearms to protect themselves and their families in the District of Columbia. The District’s draconian restrictions on core Second-Amendment rights are out of step with the mainstream protections in the rest of the country, and as the D.C. Circuit’s opinion shows, they are equally out of step with our Nation’s traditions and fundamental law.”

Gura told the Free Beacon that the decision to not rehear the case is significant because of the timing.

“Ten years ago, Washington, D.C.’s political leadership tried to extinguish Second Amendment rights before the Supreme Court. The result was D.C. v. Heller, a tremendous victory for the rights of all Americans. With the court of appeals again confirming the people’s right to bear arms, Washington, D.C.’s politicians must once again ask themselves whether it makes sense to keep resisting our fundamental rights.”

The issue now, that I discussed back in July when the law’s good cause requirement was held unconstitutional, is that there is a Circuit split. The Ninth Circuit had once ruled in favor of plaintiff Edward Peruta in his case against San Diego, making the same case against “good cause” requirements.

The Ninth Circuit definitively shut that down, but the D.C. Court’s decision now leaves a Circuit split, making the Supreme Court more likely to take up the case. If they do, it is more likely than not that the Court will affirm the right to bear arms again, especially with Neil Gorsuch now situated on the Court.

However, the reliability of certain other justices has been notoriously shaky in recent years.