News & Politics

Court: D.C. Concealed-Carry Law 'Probably' Unconstitutional

Two days in a row with good Second Amendment news.

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that Washington. D.C.’s restrictive concealed-carry rules are “probably” unconstitutional and ordered District police to stop enforcing the rule that requires an applicant to show “good reason” for needing to conceal a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon explained that the D.C. law violates the “core right of self-defense” articulated in the Second Amendment, dismissing claims by local officials that the city needs to regulate firearms to prevent crime.

Once again, we see the legal brain trust of the left arguing that there is some standard to be met before constitutionally protected rights kick in. Yesterday, I discussed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that asserted the selling of firearms is protected under the Second Amendment. The lone judge dissenting in that case claimed “conspicuously missing from this lawsuit is any honest-to-God resident of Alameda County complaining that he or she cannot lawfully buy a gun nearby.”  There is no requirement to show “need” before the state recognizes your rights.

“The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table,” Leon wrote in a 46-page opinion, quoting a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision in 2008 in another District case that established a constitutional right to keep firearms inside one’s home.

Leon said the right applies both inside and outside the home.

“The District’s understandable, but overzealous, desire to restrict the right to carry in public a firearm for self-defense to the smallest possible number of law-abiding, responsible citizens is exactly the type of policy choice the Justices had in mind,” he wrote.

The ruling on Tuesday means the District cannot refuse to issue a conceal permit to citizens who do not show a good reason for needing to carry a gun.

D.C.’s law, “among the strictest in the country,” is similar to laws in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, all of which have been determined by courts to be constitutional. A lawsuit is pending in California over a similar law in San Diego. I assume this issue will end up at the SCOTUS.

The District law states that the police have the discretion and “may issue” permits to those who show “good reason to fear injury” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.”

The city was sued by the Pink Pistols, who claimed that the restriction violates their right to arm themselves for self protection against unexpected threats.

“The District of Columbia cannot parcel out constitutional rights to a select few of its choosing,” plaintiffs’ attorney David Thompson said Tuesday. “That’s not how the Constitution works in this country.”

D.C. Attorney General Democrat Karl Racine plans to put Judge Leon’s decision on hold while the city appeals. Racine says the laws are “reasonable and necessary to ensure public safety in a dense urban environment.”

A spokesperson for the D.C. mayor, Democrat Muriel Bowser, said: “We believe our gun laws are constitutional and should be upheld.”