Federal Judge Strikes D.C. Concealed Carry Law as Probably Unconstitutional

Concealed Carry: Another Victory for Liberty and the 2nd Amendment

concealed carry

From The Washington Post:

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a key provision of the District’s new gun law is probably unconstitutional, ordering D.C. police to stop requiring individuals to show “good reason” to obtain a permit to carry a firearm on the streets of the nation’s capital.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found that the law violates the “core right of self-defense” granted in the Second Amendment, setting aside arguments from District officials that the regulation is needed to prevent crime and protect the public.

“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 District law, among the strictest in the country, matches those in Maryland, New Jersey and New York that federal appeals courts have said are constitutional. A decision on a similar law in San Diego is pending before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California.

The District law gives police discretion and states that Chief Cathy L. Lanier “may issue” licenses to applicants who show “good reason to fear injury” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol,” such as having a job transporting cash or other valuables.

District gun owner Matthew Grace and gun rights group Pink Pistols sued last year, arguing that the D.C. law violates the right to bear arms for self-protection, including against nonspecific or 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.”

It strikes me that living in D.C. would be enough for someone to have “good reason to fear injury.”

The article also points out that last March, another judge refused to stop the District from enforcing this  unconstitutional law because she treated it, not as a burden on a fundamental right, but as just another regulation.

Leon evaluated the District’s law using the highest constitutional standard of review, reserved for regulations that infringe “core” rights, while Kollar-Kotelly applied a lower standard that gives equal weight to the purposes as well as the constitutional burdens of a government regulation.

And yes, Judge Leon was appointed by George W. Bush, and Kollar-Kotelly was appointed by Bill Clinton (who would have guessed she was a democrat with a name like that?).


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