D.C. Mayor signs strict ‘may-issue’ gun law

As expected, Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed an emergency bill on Friday legalizing concealed carry in Washington, D.C., thus satisfying a federal judge’s ruling forcing the District to adopt some form of carry.

While some would argue that this is progress in the National’s Capital, it’s quite clear based on the language of the ‘may-issue’ bill that it is really just maintaining the old status quo, effectively finding a new way to prohibit bearing arms outside the home.

In addition to requiring one to pass an extensive background check, complete 18 hours of gun-safety training, the bill makes one provide to the police chief a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.”

It’s that discretionary aspect of the bill, the police chief’s power to arbitrarily deny one the right to carry, that will likely prevent many law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Alan Gura, the attorney for the Second Amendment Foundation who worked to have the ban on concealed carry overturned in federal court, called the emergency bill “something of a joke,” telling The Washington Post that “it’s not much progress to move from a system from where licenses are not available to where licenses are only available if the city feels like issuing them.”

Gura has filed a motion to keep the District from rolling out the new law.

Upon the mayor’s signing of the bill, District Attorney General Irvin Nathan and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier released a statement about enforcing the new law:

“The law cures the alleged constitutional flaws in the District’s licensing laws found by a U.S. District Court in the Palmer case. The summary judgment ruling in that case was stayed until October 22, 2014, giving District officials time to issue regulations authorized by this legislation. Once these are issued, members of the public who meet the statute’s criteria will be able to apply for a license to carry a pistol in the District.

In the meantime, except as authorized for law enforcement, carrying a gun in public remains a criminal offense, and anyone found doing so will be subject to arrest. The District’s Office of the Attorney General is prepared to prosecute all cases within its jurisdiction. All firearms will be seized as contraband. Firearms with a valid registration in the District of Columbia will be held as contraband unless and until the person goes through the process of applying for a valid license to carry.

In short, carrying a handgun without a license in the District of Columbia remains illegal. The District government is committed to working closely with the Council and with our community and federal partners to ensure the safety of District residents from gun violence.”

The emergency bill will be in effect for 90 days. After which, the D.C. city council will re-examine the law, hold public hearings on it and ultimately vote on whether to make it permanent, pending Congressional review.

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