Once again, the District of Columbia has been dealt a huge blow by a federal appeals court regarding their overly restrictive gun laws.
The D.C. Court of Appeals took up a case that argued the District’s “good cause” requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit was unconstitutional and violated the Second Amendment. The District has lost in similar cases over the past several years, beginning with the Heller case. This case, Wrenn vs. District of Columbia, is another big win for gun owners.
The Washington Post reported that the decision was handed down by a 2-1 vote, with Federal Judges Thomas B. Griffith and Stephen F. Williams voting to strike down the rule on Second Amendment grounds.
The District’s code on carrying a concealed handgun contained a provision known as the “good cause” requirement, a nefarious hurdle that few in states that have such a requirement could pass. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and California are some of the states that have such a requirement set up, where citizens often are effectively banned from exercising their right to bear arms for protection outside the home.
To receive a license based on the first prong—a “good reason to fear injury”—applicants must show a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” Id. § 7-2509.11(1)(A). The police chief’s regulations further limit licenses granted on this basis to those who “allege, in writing, serious threats of death or serious bodily harm, any attacks on [their] person, or any theft of property from [their] person.” D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24 § 2333.2-3.
The District built their concealed carry statute with the framework of those states, and implemented that good cause requirement; so far only 124 people have been able to clear the hurdle, according to Fox News. The only way to properly analyze this kind of statutory scheme is to look at it as a ban, because for all intents and purposes, that’s what it is.
“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”).
This now creates a Circuit split between the Ninth Circuit. However, the Supreme Court decided not to take up the Peruta vs San Diego case, which dealt with a similar issue.
But given that there is a Circuit split, the prospect of the Supreme Court addressing the issue once again has hope. That is, we hope that the Court will rule properly, that the right to keep and bear arms involves exactly that: keeping and bearing arms.