D.C. Asks Full Federal Appeals Court to Review Gun-Carry Law in Wake of July Ruling Declaring it Unconstitutional

City's 'good reason' clause to be examined in federal court yet again

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine / Getty Images
• August 24, 2017 5:00 pm


The city of Washington, D.C., formally requested on Thursday that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit review its July decision declaring its gun-carry law unconstitutional.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said the city believes its gun-carry law, and its provision allowing government officials to deny applicants who've otherwise met the requirements for a permit as long as the officials determine the applicant doesn't have a "good reason" to need one, is constitutional.

"The District's requirement that those requesting concealed-carry permits must have a ‘good reason’ for doing so is virtually identical to rules in other cities and states—requirements that four other federal appeals courts have left in place," Racine said in a statement. "We at the Office of Attorney General believe our common-sense gun rules are very much in line with Supreme Court precedent on the Second Amendment, which is why we have asked the full D.C. Circuit to reconsider the earlier 2-1 ruling by a panel of that court."

The request comes after a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled on July 25 that the "good reason" clause, which has resulted in the city of over 600,000 issuing only 126 carry permits as of July 2017, was a violation of the Second Amendment and unconstitutional.

"Reading the Amendment, applying Heller I's reasoning, and crediting key early sources, we conclude: 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," Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the majority in the case.

The city is expected to fare better in front of the full D.C. Circuit than it did in front of the three-judge panel.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, which is a plaintiff in the case, said the request for a full-panel hearing is proof that the city is determined to fight against gun rights activists in courts for as long as they possibly can—even after a string of losses.

"The Second Amendment Foundation expected the City of Washington, D.C., to file this appeal to attempt to try to overturn our court victory that said their virtual ban on the right to carry a firearm for self-protection was unconstitutional," he said. "They have no intention of complying with any court decision that supports the right to keep and bear arms. It took the Heller decision to force them to allow a gun in your own home for self-defense. It took the Palmer decision to force them to repeal their total ban on carry, and now they are kicking and screaming about losing the Wrenn decision."

Published under: DC City Council, Gun Control