- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A gun rights advocacy group filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging Washington, D.C.’s newly enacted concealed carry laws on behalf of three men who were denied permits to carry firearms by the Metropolitan Police Department.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court, the Second Amendment Foundation said the law’s requirement that gun owners demonstrate a “good reason” to carry a concealed weapon is unconstitutional.

“The city has set the bar so high that it relegates a fundamental civil right to the status of a heavily-regulated government privilege,” said Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Bellevue, Washington-based foundation. “Law-abiding citizens who clear background checks and are allowed to have handguns in their homes are being unnecessarily burdened with the additional requirement of proving some special need.”

D.C. lawmakers drafted concealed carry laws last year to comply with a ruling by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. that overturned the District’s long-standing ban on the carrying of firearms in public. The legislation created a process by which D.C. residents and nonresidents could apply for concealed carry permits by showing proof that they needed to carry a weapon for self-defense.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier previously provided a few examples of circumstances that would qualify under the law, including individuals who have a documented history of being domestic violence victims or people who regularly carry large amounts of money or valuables for work. For those who do receive a permit, there are still strict licensing regulations that require firearms training and limit the locations where a handgun can be carried.

Tuesday’s lawsuit doubles efforts by gun owners to challenge regulations requiring them to prove they are under a specific threat in order to obtain a concealed carry permit.

SEE ALSO: D.C. Council gives final approval to concealed-carry gun regulations

Attorney Alan Gura, who is representing the Second Amendment Foundation in the latest lawsuit, previously asked Judge Scullin to hold the city in contempt for failure to adopt a constitutional licensing scheme as the judge required in the Palmer v. District case. Judge Scullin has yet to issue a ruling on that request.

In the meantime, the District has appealed the Palmer case.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday states that three men — Brian Wrenn and Joshua Akery, of the District, and Tyler Whidby, a Florida resident who also maintains a residence in Virginia — were all denied concealed carry permits by Chief Lanier. All three men applied for permits but were unable to demonstrate “a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community” or provide evidence showing they have been subject to “specific threats or previous attacks,” according to the lawsuit.

City officials have defended the regulations, saying the “may issue” scheme balances security risks in the nation’s capitol with gun owners’ rights.

Both the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Attorney General declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Under the city’s concealed carry laws, a Concealed Pistol Licensing Review Board is tasked with reviewing permit denials.

Mr. Gura said the three gun owners have not and will not be appealing their permit denials to the board.

“It’s a waste of time and it’s not required,” Mr. Gura said.

The Metropolitan Police Department reports that 70 people have applied for concealed carry permits from Oct. 22, when the carry law took effect, through Friday. Eleven people were approved for permits and 22 people were denied permits.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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