D.C. officials have asked a judge to let the city enforce a central element of its restrictive concealed-carry law — the requirement that handgun owners demonstrate a “good reason” for a permit to carry — while a lawsuit over the matter works its way through the federal court system.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the District from enforcing that part of the law, requiring people to prove a specific “good reason” in order to receive a concealed-carry permit.
In a motion filed late Tuesday, the District’s Attorney General asked the judge to stay the ruling while the city pursues an appeal.
“Granting an administrative stay would minimize unnecessary disruption and confusion,” wrote D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, noting that if a later ruling were to overturn the injunction, any concealed-carry permits issued during that time might have to be withdrawn.
D.C. lawmakers drafted the concealed-carry laws last year to comply with a different ruling by Judge Scullin 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.
D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier was given the authority to decide who met the criteria.
Mr. Racine defended the restrictive measures adopted by the lawmakers, saying that the good that comes from the restrictions is more apparent than the bad.
“The risk of a gun-related tragedy — accidental or deliberate — by new licensees who have no particularized fear of any specific danger to their safety, outweighs plaintiffs’ speculative fears about any imminent need to defend themselves from a random, public attack,” Mr. Racine wrote.
The attorney general also hinted in the court filings at the likelihood that he will eventually appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District.
Gun-rights proponents have been critical of the “good reason” requirement in the concealed-carry regulations, arguing that it unfairly limits Second Amendment rights.
Three gun owners brought this lawsuit against the city on the grounds that the regulations are so strict that they make it impossible for them to exercise their right to bear arms.
Judge Scullin agreed, writing in his order last week that, “For all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”
The gun owners’ attorney, Alan Gura, anticipated the request for a stay — saying last week that “We’re going to fight all the way.”