Beleaguered Washington, D.C., gun owners had reason to celebrate yesterday as a federal judge released a ruling that could make it easier to obtain a concealed carry permit.
Current D.C. law requires a resident to prove “good reason to fear injury” before being issued a permit. District Judge Richard Leon ruled yesterday that this requirement is unconstitutional, stating in his decision, “Because the right to bear arms includes the right to carry firearms for self-defense both in and outside the home, I find that the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement likely places an unconstitutional burden on this right.”
“In Heller, the Supreme Court unequivocally asserted that ‘the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table,’” Leon continued. “The District’s understandable, but overly zealous, desire to restrict the right to carry in public a firearm for self-defense to the smallest possible number of law-abiding, responsible citizens is exactly the type of policy choice the justices had in mind.”
The “good reason” provision barred most D.C. residents from carrying a firearm for self-defense. The Washington Free Beacon reports that the city of over 600,000 had only issued 62 carry permits as of March 9.
The city, according to the Beacon, has requested a stay on the ruling and plans to appeal the decision in court.
“We continue to believe our ‘good reason’ requirement for a concealed-carry permit is both constitutional and in line with similar laws in New Jersey, New York and Maryland – all of which have been upheld by federal appeals courts,” said D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine in a statement. “Just two months ago, another judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declined to enjoin the District from enforcing the same requirement at issue in today’s ruling. We believe that the District’s gun laws are reasonable and necessary to ensure public safety in a dense urban area, and we will request a stay of this decision while we appeal.”
The suit against the city was brought by D.C. gun owner Matthew Grace and an LGTB gun rights group called the “Pink Pistols.”
“There’s an awful lot of instances where we get targeted by people who don’t like us, don’t like what we do, don’t like what we stand for, don’t like our politics,” Gwendolyn S. Patton, head of Pink Pistols International, told the Beacon. “They don’t think we have the right to go about our lives in a normal fashion and decide to harm us, to attack us, to hurt us, and, in many cases, to kill us. This is unacceptable to us so we advocate the use of the Second Amendment to protect ourselves from such things.”
If it stands, Judge Leon’s ruling could allow anyone to carry a concealed firearms who passes a background check and meets the training requirements.