For years gun owners in blue states have been stymied by restrictions on concealed carry that force them to prove a special “need” before they are allowed to exercise their rights. Now, the results of a court case in Washington D.C. may be about to upend that. The California Rifle & Pistol Association writes:
On Thursday, September 28, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals officially denied Washington D.C.’s request to rehear the cases of Grace v. District of Columbia and Wrenn v. District of Columbia. These cases challenge Washington D.C.’s restrictive “good reason” requirement (i.e., a special need beyond self-defense) for the issuance of a CCW on the grounds that it violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. As a result of today’s decision, Washington D.C. must either petition the United States Supreme Court to rehear the case, or accept the fact that their “good reason” requirement is unconstitutional.
Last July, a 3-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision prohibiting Washington D.C. from enforcing its “good reason” requirement. The law at issue requires law-abiding citizens who wish to carry a firearm in public to first obtain a license, but also restricts the issuance of licenses to those citizens who can show a specific, documented need for self-defense—for example, by proving that they have been previously attacked or have been receiving death threats.
As stated by the Court in its opinion, “history matters, and here it favors the plaintiffs.” For in reading the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Heller, and early historical sources, the Court concluded that “the individual right to carry common firearms beyond the home for self-defense—even in densely populated areas, even for those lacking special self-defense needs—falls within the core of the Second Amendment’s protections.”
As a result, the Court ruled D.C.’s “good reason” requirement, which requires individuals applying for a CCW in Washington D.C. to demonstrate a special need beyond mere self-defense, unconstitutional.
Washington D.C. immediately petitioned the D.C. Circuit to rehear the case by a larger “en banc” panel of judges, arguing that allowing ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry firearms—as is allowed in 42 of the 50 states (including major cities like Chicago, Houston, Miami, and Philadelphia)—would somehow “increase crime and cost lives.”
If that strategy sounds familiar to you, it is because that is exactly what the California Attorney General did following a monumental 3-judge panel opinion in the NRA and CRPA supported case of Peruta v. San Diego, which held California’s restrictive “good cause” requirement unconstitutional. This new D.C. court ruling seems to create a circuit split that might cause the Supreme Court to pay closer attention to the case, or a future legal challenge.
If the Supreme Court gets this case and rules in favor of gun owners, it could completely change the dynamic many of them face in their home states when applying for concealed carry permits.