Federal District Court decision striking down DC’s ban on concealed handguns: Copy and analysis

26 Jul , 2014  

A copy of the decision is available here.

Effective immediately – since DC has no other laws in effect concerning carrying a firearm except the one just struck down – DC is legally a Constitutional Carry area for non-residents at this time. Non-residents will be able to legally carry in DC under the same rules that we currently see in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Wyoming, Vermont, and 99.4% of Montana. Residents appear to still be required to have a legally registered gun, though once they have that they will be able to carry without any additional license.

Obviously, government will ask for a stay on Monday, but with all the other states allowing concealed carry, it will be somewhat hard to argue that DC will suffer irreparable harm.

Here are some particularly relevant quotes from Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr.’s decision:

As the court noted in Peruta, “[t]he Second Amendment secures the right not only to ‘keep’ arms but also to ‘bear’ them[,]” Peruta, 742 F.3d at 1151; and, as the Supreme Court explained in Heller, “[a]t the time of the founding, as now, to ‘bear’ meant to ‘carry[,]'” Heller, 554 U.S. at 584. “Yet, not ‘carry’ in the ordinary sense of ‘convey[ing] or transport[ing]’ an object, as one might carry groceries to the check-out counter or garments to the laundromat, but ‘carry for a particular purpose confrontation.'” Peruta, 742 F.3d at 1151-52 (quoting [Heller, 554 U.S. at 584]). According to the Heller majority, the “natural meaning of ‘bear arms'” was the one that Justice Ginsburg provided in her dissent in Muscarello v. United States, 524 U.S. 125 (1998), that is “‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.'” Heller, 554 U.S. at 584 (quoting Muscarello, 524 U.S. at 143, 118 S. Ct. 1911) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting) (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary 214 (6th ed. 1998)).

Furthermore, “‘bearing a weapon inside the home’ does not exhaust this definition of ‘carry.’ For one thing, the very risk occasioning such carriage, ‘confrontation,’ is ‘not limited to the home.'” Peruta, 742 F.3d at 1152 (quoting Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933, 936 (7th Cir. 2012)). . . .

As the Seventh Circuit stated in Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012), “[a] blanket prohibition on carrying gun[s] in public prevents a person from defending himself anywhere except inside his home; and so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof that it would.” Id. at 940. This does not mean that the government cannot place some reasonable restrictions on carrying of handguns; for example, “when a state bans guns merely in particular places, such as public schools, a person can preserve an undiminished right of self-defense by not entering those places; since that’s a lesser burden, the state doesn’t need to prove so strong a need.” Id. The District of Columbia appears to be the only jurisdiction that still has such a complete ban on the carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home. That does not mean that other jurisdictions are indifferent to the dangers that the widespread public carrying of guns; rather, those jurisdictions “have decided that a proper balance between the interest in self-defense and the dangers created by carrying guns in public is to limit the right to carry a gun to responsible persons rather than to ban public carriage altogether[.]” Id. at 940. In addition, to “the usual prohibitions of gun ownership by children, felons, illegal aliens, lunatics, and in sensitive places such as public schools, the propriety of which was not questioned in Heller . . . some states sensibly require that an applicant for a handgun permit establish his competence in handling firearms.” Id. at 940-41 (internal parenthetical omitted). Some states “also permit private businesses and other private institutions (such as churches) to ban guns from their premises.” . . .

Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.


6 Responses

  1. […] via Federal District Court decision striking down DC’s ban on concealed handguns: Copy and analysi…. […]

  2. Doug Huffman says:

    Given DC’s, and their enforcers’, in-your-face relationship with the nation and world, the caution may be: One may beat the rap, but you will not beat their ride.

  3. […] Saturday, with a decision by Senior District Court Judge Fredrick Scullin Jr., DC joined six states that no longer require […]

  4. […] a reply A copy of the decision and some analysis of it along with key quotes is available here. This entry was posted in ConcealedCarry, DC on July 26, 2014 by […]

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