Citing the low number of concealed carry permit applications the District has received, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on Tuesday downplayed the effects of a federal court ruling that strikes down the city’s requirement gun owners demonstrate a “good reason” in order to receive the permits.
Since October, when regulations for the issuance of concealed carry permits took effect, through May 9, the Metropolitan Police Department received 107 applications and denied 42. It has granted 26 concealed carry permits.
“It’s not a huge impact for us. We haven’t had a huge number of applicants,” Chief Lanier said during an interview Tuesday on NewsTalk with Bruce Depuyt. “Our residents have been pretty clear this is not something that they wanted. A very small number of D.C. residents have applied for concealed carry.”
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. on Monday granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by three gun owners that seeks to overturn the city’s recently adopted concealed carry law on the grounds that the regulations are too strict and deprive gun owners of Second Amendment rights.
The ruling makes it clear that the judge believes the gun owners have ample evidence to win their case, and while D.C. attorneys haven’t said how they intend to respond to Monday’s ruling, it’s all but certain that District will fight the case in the long run.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said that while his office is still reviewing the ruling, “we believe that the law passed by the Council is constitutionally valid.”
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Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a statement Tuesday saying in part that she would “fight to ensure we have the safest gun laws in the nation.”
“Today, D.C. is safer than it has been in years and we will not retreat from that progress,” the mayor said.
The concealed carry laws were adopted by the D.C. Council last year to comply with a ruling by Judge Scullin in the separate Palmer v. District case that overturned the city’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. The portion of the D.C. law that gun owners hope to overturn in this case is the requirement for individuals to demonstrate “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.”
While Monday’s ruling was good news for gun rights proponents, legal experts say it’s less clear whether the case will be able to hold up in higher levels of the court system. “Good reason” requirements adopted by other jurisdictions and challenged in court have been allowed to stand in appeals court rulings — including in Maryland — raising the question of whether the case would survive on appeal.
“Where these good cause requirements for carry have been adjudicated by federal courts of appeal, they have been upheld,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA. “The D.C. circuit has been pretty favored towards gun control in recent years.”
The D.C. case is far from over, still needing to fully play out in U.S. District Court for the District. At this point, the Attorney General’s Office could request a stay of the preliminary injunction, but that’s a move Judge Scullin seems unlikely to issue, said David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank and Second Amendment advocacy group.
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After striking down the city’s ban on carrying handguns in public in July — a move that left the city scrambling — Judge Scullin issued a stay of just 90 days to allow lawmakers to devise new regulations to comply with his order.
“They tried that before when their complete ban was struck down and he gave them a short stay to enact legislation,” Mr. Kopel said. “Their odds of getting a stay are lower in this case.”
The preliminary injunction leaves in place other concealed carry permit requirements, including the completion of firearms training and restrictions on where concealed weapons can be carried. It also keeps in tact Chief Lanier’s ability to take up to 90 days to determine whether to grant or deny a permit, so even if the ruling prompts a rush of applications the effect would not be immediate.
In the meantime, the chief said she would not be denying any applications based on the “good reason” justification as required by the judge.