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Judge finds DC concealed carry law unreasonable

Written By | May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON May 21, 2015 – Last week, if you wanted to apply for a conceal carry permit in our nation’s capital, you would first have to show reason for your request. Even after undertaking the training requirements, fingerprinting procedures, and paying the registration fees, your provided “need” may not be sufficient enough a concern for the government of Washington DC to grant you a permit.

However, on May 18, US Federal Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr issued an opinion that the “good reason” clause was an unreasonable burden on the applicant, and issued a temporary injunction to stop enforcement of the law.

Like New Jersey, and their Maryland neighbors, Washington DC was a “may issue” state when it came to conceal carry licenses. In order to obtain the right to carry a weapon concealed on your person, the applicant would first have to show that they have a real need to carry the weapon. If the deciding authority did not think your situation necessitated a permit, your application would be denied.

Gun rights hanging in the balance?

At least in DC, that practice may soon permanently be ended.

Judge Scullin has ruled the practice is unreasonable, and DC will now be forced to issue based on application submission, rather than demonstrated need, at least until the lawsuit is finished.

This has far reaching implications for the gun control/gun rights arena.  With last year’s decision by the 9th Circuit Court to bar San Diego from issuing based on need status, and the recent Supreme Court decision to allow felons to sell their firearms, it would seem that the tide is currently in the favor of gun rights.

If the court finally rules to do away with DC’s “good reason” clause of their application process, then gun control advocates will find themselves in a somewhat tenuous position.

They could accept the decision without appealing, and let Washington DC, one of the most Liberal cities in the country, be established as another “shall-issue” concealed carry municipality. This would be a major blow for Democratic politics, gun-control advocates, and be a tremendous victory for gun-rights groups around the country.

They could accept the decision without appealing, and then find other ways to prohibit applicants from successfully obtaining a license. They could make fingerprinting and training cost prohibitive, they could create an application exam which would be too difficult for most people to pass, or they could simply raise the total cost of applying to a few thousand dollars.

Gun rights activists take on Maryland

They could fight it, and bring the decision all the way to the Supreme Court. This is the riskiest of all options, but it carries the possibility of victory. If DC can carry this to SCOTUS, and win, then they will have established a precedent for the Constitutionality of “may-issue” and they retain the sovereignty of their city with the blessing of the Federal government. However, if they fail to win, and SCOTUS rules that “may-issue” procedures for CCW are unconstitutional, it would be a tremendous victory for the gun-rights camp. In fact it would probably be the victory of the decade.

If DC is not careful, their attempt at regulating CCW in their city may lead to a loss of the ability for any municipality in the country to remain a “may-issue” state at all.

Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a BA from Catholic University in DC and an MA form George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, both in history. When he not getting his hands dirty in 2nd Amendment and firearms news he is doing his best to take a crack at some drive-by political analysis. And every now and then he may or may not review a low end bourbon for the tax write off. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Back Porch Politics.