Washington, DC has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. The city has issued just 126 conceal carry licenses over the past nine years.
For someone to obtain a concealed carry permit, that person must prove they have a “good reason” to carry a weapon – such as a specific threat to personal safety.
On Tuesday, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the good-reason law violates the 2nd Amendment. The vote was 2-1.
“The good reason law is necessarily a total ban on most DC residents’ right to carry a gun in the face of ordinary self-defense needs,” writes Judge Thomas B. Griffith.
Lone dissenting Judge Karen Henderson argues that the constitutional right to bear arms applies to self-defense at home, but not in public. “Regulations restricting public carrying are all the more compelling in a geographically small but heavily populated urban area like the District.”
Henderson’s argument is that Washington, DC has special security needs. If that argument held up, however, it would give every jurisdiction in the nation the chance to restrict an enumerated constitutional right based on its own distinct perception of “public safety.”
“We are bound to leave the District as much space to regulate as the Constitution allows – but no more. And the resulting decision rests on a rule so narrow that good-reason laws seem almost uniquely designed to defy it: that the law-abiding citizen’s right to bear common arms must enable the typical citizen to carry a gun.”
The court’s decision sent the case back to the lower court to impose a permanent injunction, which would stop future enforcement of the permit law.
In the meantime, the city will continue to enforce it.
Now that we have a more conservative US Supreme Court, people in restrictive gun control states can start to challenge those laws and have the higher courts back them up.
Tuesday’s decision comes more than a year after a federal judge ruled the good-reason law as unconstitutional, and nearly a decade after Columbia v. Heller – when the Supreme Court struck down a law banning all handgun possession in the District.