Gun owners who successfully sued the D.C. government to overturn the city’s ban on carrying firearms in public are asking a judge to block implementation of a new law regulating concealed carry, saying the measure is unconstitutionally restrictive.
Plaintiffs in the Palmer v. District of Columbia case filed a motion Thursday asking U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. to block the legislation “unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
The D.C. Council adopted emergency legislation last month that establishes for the first time in decades a process by which gun owners can apply to carry a concealed weapon on city streets. The approved legislation, valid for 90 days, would grant the city’s police chief the authority to issue concealed carry permits and would require gun owners to demonstrate “good reason” to carry a gun.
“They have merely dusted off their earlier statute restricting handgun carry licenses at the police chief’s pleasure, a licensing regime which explicitly rejects the notion that people have a right to carry handguns for self-defense,” wrote attorney Alan Gura in his request for an injunction.
Judge Scullin struck down the city’s ban on carrying guns in public in July, writing in his opinion that “there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.” His ruling is on hold until Oct. 22, giving the city time to implement the new law.
City attorneys are still considering whether to appeal the case, but Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan has previously said the city modeled its “may issue” approach to permits on states such as New York and Maryland, where such statutes have withstood challenges in federal courts.
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The law also defined training requirements for those seeking to carry a concealed handgun and outlined prohibitions on firearms in certain sensitive locations — such as in schools and government buildings, or within 1,000 feet of demonstrations or public dignitaries.
“At the minimum the city needs to allow responsible, law abiding people to carry handguns for self-defense. That’s the absolute minimum,” Mr. Gura said in an interview Thursday. “Regulation about training and sensitive places, that’s for another day. But at the heart of it we have a dispute about the right to carry handguns for self-defense.”