DC Gun Carry Case Moves Back to Appeals Court

District Court upholds ‘good reason’ clause

Holstered guns / AP

The case against Washington’s restrictive gun-carry law is on its way back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a district court judge sided with the city in a ruling released on Monday.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled against the plaintiffs’ claim that the city's "good reason" clause, which allows officials to deny permits to applicants who otherwise pass a background check and complete the required training, is unconstitutional. She denied their request for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of that part of the law.

The plaintiffs immediately filed an appeal of the decision with the United States Court of Appeals.

This represents a repeat of May 2015 for the case. Judge Frederick J. Scullin, who had previously ruled that D.C.'s complete ban on gun carry was unconstitutional, struck down the "good reason" clause in his ruling, a decision that the city then appealed. However, Scullin's ruling was vacated by the higher court after the city raised concerns over whether the judge had the authority to hear the case.

Now, nearly a year later, the case looks to be headed back to same higher court.

The Second Amendment Foundation, the gun rights group backing the suit, said they were expecting the district court judge to rule against them and are happy to be back at the appellate level.

"We immediately filed our notice of appeal and look forward to winning this case," Alan Gottlieb, the group's founder, said. "We are glad the judge acted quickly so that we can get this case back to the Court of Appeals."

The city praised Judge Kollar-Kotelly's ruling and said it stands behind its law.

"We are pleased with the Court’s order," Attorney General Racine said in a statement, "because it means the District will be able to continue enforcing its law requiring applicants for permits to carry concealed guns in public to state a ‘good reason’ for doing so."

The Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a request for the current number of valid permits, but the latest publicly available numbers indicate the city of nearly 600,000 has issued fewer than 40 permits.