D.C. Concealed Carry Laws Are Unconstitutional, Rules Federal Judge — Orders District Not To Ask Citizens For ‘Good Reason’ Why They Want A Gun

In a major victory for gun advocates, a federal judge has ordered Washington, D.C. to stop asking prospective gun owners for a “good reason” to seek a “concealed carry” permit. The judge thinks asking for a reason might be a violation of the Second Amendment.

A federal judge has struck down a key aspect of Washington, D.C.’s new gun laws, stating they are probably unconstitutional. The judge has ordered the District’s police to stop asking individuals to prove they have a “good reason” to obtain a concealed carry permit. Essentially, the citizens won’t have to provide a reason to obtain a permit that allows them to carry a firearm on the streets of the nation’s capital.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon noted that the law seems to violate the Second Amendment, which grants each American citizen the “core right to self-defense.” District officials had earlier argued that the regulation was needed to prevent crime and protect the public. Moreover, the ruling has once again opened the intense debate over gun rights in the nation’s capital. Earlier, the city had the right to deny the permit to conceal carry. Using the “may issue” laws, the city had so far managed to keep the number of concealed carry permits to a minimum, noted the judge,

“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.”

However, Judge Leon, in his 46-page opinion set aside the argument from District officials.

“The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. Because the right to bear arms includes the right to carry firearms for self-defense both in and outside the home, I find that the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement likely places an unconstitutional burden on this right”

The Judge was referring to 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, reported the Washington Post. Leon merely extended the law stating the right applies both inside and outside the home.

Judge Leon has essentially granted a preliminary injunction while the case pertaining to the prevalent laws proceeds in court. This is the second lawsuit of its kind that challenged concealed carry laws adopted by the District. Officials had mentioned that the law merely complies with a federal judge’s 2014 ruling that overturned the city’s long-standing ban on the carrying of firearms in public, reported the Washington Times.

Federal judges appear to be torn and divided about the concealed carry, as well as the guns laws, at least in terms of the Second Amendment. Earlier this year, U.S. district court judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sided with the District and declined to issue a preliminary injunction. Incidentally, Kollar-Kotelly was nominated by a Democrat, Bill Clinton. Leon on the other hand, was nominated by Republican, George W. Bush.

The District’s “good reason” or “may allow” laws required applicants to provide evidence that they were subject to “specific threats or previous attacks.” Applicants had to convince the officials that they had a valid reason to carry a concealed weapon. Permissible reasons included carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. Essentially, the laws made obtaining a concealed carry permit really difficult for people apart from those in the security business.

The laws were so strict, ever since the city began issuing concealed carry permits; the Metropolitan Police Department has issued just 74, noted police spokesperson Officer Sean Hickman.

The lawsuit which won the injunction has been filed by Matthew Grace, and a shooting group he belongs to, the Pink Pistols, reported The Guardian. The group has been encouraging members of the gay community to arm themselves for self-defense.

[Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images]