D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has asked an appeals court to rehear a case in which a panel of its members found that the city’s laws restricting the concealed carry of handguns were unconstitutional.
At issue is the city’s requirement that gun owners prove “good reason” in order to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in the nation’s capital.
In a 2-1 decision issued in July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of gun owners who said the law was so restrictive that most law-abiding citizens would be unable to obtain permits.
In a petition submitted to the D.C. Circuit on Thursday, Mr. Racine asked for an en banc hearing so that the full slate of judges might reconsider the case.
“The District’s requirement that those requesting concealed-carry permits must have a ‘good reason’ for doing so is virtually identical to rules in other cities and states — requirements that four other federal appeals courts have left in place,” Mr. Racine said. “We at the Office of Attorney General believe our common-sense gun rules are very much in line with Supreme Court precedent on the Second Amendment.”
D.C. lawmakers adopted the “good reason” requirements after a series of legal losses over prior firearms restrictions.
The Supreme Court struck down the city’s near-total ban on firearms possession in 2008, and a federal court blocked an effort to ban the carrying of firearms in public in 2014. The “good reasons” law that followed requires that gun owners prove they have a “good reason to fear injury” or another “proper reason,” such as a job that requires carrying large amounts of cash or valuables, in order to get a concealed carry permit.
Under the city’s law, living in a high-crime neighborhood was not reason enough to justify approval of a concealed carry permit.
In the brief filed Thursday, lawyers from the attorney general’s office point to Washington, D.C.’s dense population, numerous high-ranking federal officials and regular protests as examples why the “unique” city requires particular firearms regulations.
“The Supreme Court has recognized that the Second Amendment preserves, even if it limits, a local jurisdiction’s ability to craft firearm regulations to suit its local needs and values,” city attorneys wrote.
They argue that the three-judge panel that heard the case misinterpreted prior case law, specifically the Supreme Court’s landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision, and say the full panel should take up the case because the high court has in recent years declined to take up other Second Amendment cases.
The Second Amendment Foundation, which represented gun owners in one of the two challenges brought against the city’s gun law, had expected the city would appeal the decision and is prepared to go back to court to defend the case.
“They have no intention of complying with any court decision that supports the right to keep and bear arms,” said Alan Gottlieb, the founder and executive vice president of SAF, citing a series of prior court challenges brought over D.C. gun laws.
Even in a “unique” city like Washington, D.C., citizens still have a right to keep and bear arms, Mr. Gottlieb said.
“Municipal stubbornness cannot be allowed to outweigh the Constitution,” he said. “A civil right should not be subject to bureaucratic neurosis.”
• Andrea Noble can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Click to Read More and View Comments
Click to Hide
Please read our comment policy before commenting.