A federal judge on Thursday rejected a short-term stay of a decision that blocked the District from enforcing a key provision of its restrictive concealed-carry laws — prompting the city to move to issue carry permits to the gun owners who had sued after being denied permits.
However, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. left open the possibility the District could obtain a stay pending appeal of his previous ruling, which called the city’s requirement that gun owners demonstrate a “good reason” to obtain a permit unconstitutional. He set a hearing on the matter for July 7.
In the meantime, the ruling means the Metropolitan Police Department may end up issuing concealed-carry permits to applicants who previously were denied because they could not demonstrate they faced a specific threat of injury or harm.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the only applicants who will see the immediate effects of the ruling are those who are party to the lawsuit.
“Those that are part of the lawsuit can be issued the permits,” the chief said.
The three gun owners who brought the case against the city received phone calls from MPD on Thursday advising them to come to the department’s Firearms Registration Section for approval of their concealed carry permits, said Alan Gottlieb, vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, which backed the lawsuit.
“It’s our understanding now that they’ve at least called our plaintiffs and said come get your permits,” Mr. Gottlieb said.
For others seeking concealed-carry permits, the end result isn’t as clear.
To comply with the ruling, Chief Lanier said the department would not deny any permit applications based on the “good reason” requirement.
For applications that are pending, the chief said MPD would not yet issue permits. She said the department is working with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General to interpret how to comply with the ruling in those cases while the judge mulls over the city’s request to stay pending an appeal.
Mr. Gottlieb said officials have told at least one pending applicant that the department would take extra time to review his application, based on Judge Scullin’s May 18 ruling.
In a letter to the applicant, police Sgt. Colin Hall of the firearms section wrote that although the department already had taken the allowed 90 days to review the permit application, it would “invoke the additional 90 day period” allowed under D.C. law to process the application.
D.C. lawmakers drafted the concealed-carry laws last year to comply with a July ruling by Judge Scullin that overturned the District’s long-standing ban on carrying of firearms in public.
The legislation created a process by which D.C. residents and non-residents could apply for concealed-carry permits by showing proof that they need to carry a weapon for self-defense.
Chief Lanier was given the authority to decide who meets the criteria.
In court filings arguing for the stay, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine wrote that requiring the city to move forward with the issuance of permits would prove problematic if the ruling were later revoked.
“Granting an administrative stay would minimize unnecessary disruption and confusion,” Mr. Racine said, noting that if a later ruling were to overturn the injunction, any concealed-carry permits issued during that time might have to be withdrawn.
The police department had received 107 concealed carry applications as of May 9, including 52 from D.C. residents and 55 from non-residents. The department reported denying 42 applications and approving 26. The remainder were either withdrawn or pending.