Restrictive DC Gun Law Overturned, With No Appeal

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The Attorney General of Washington D.C., announced on Thursday that the city would not be appealing to the Supreme Court a federal Appeals Court decision that strikes down its strict gun-carry law.

Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement that, “Public safety is, and has always been, my paramount concern. I continue to believe the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement is a common-sense, and constitutional, gun regulation. However, we must reckon with the fact that an adverse decision by the Supreme Court could have wide-ranging negative effects not just on District residents, but on the country as a whole.”

Racine said he made the decision after consulting with elected officials in the city. “In consultation with Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Allen and multiple stakeholders, and after careful consideration, we reached consensus that abiding by the D.C. Circuit’s ruling was the wisest course of action to protect public safety in the District and nationwide,” he said. “Therefore, I have decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

A Provision in the city’s gun-carry law that allows the government officials to deny the permits to anyone that they did not believe to have a “good reason” to carry one was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in July. The Court also argued the city’s law, which has produced only 126 permits through the month of July in 2017, is designed with the intentions of denying the most normal citizens the ability to carry a gun.

Judge Thomas Griffith wrote, “We are bound to leave the District as much space to regulate as the Constitution allows—but no more. Just so, our opinion does little more than trace the boundaries laid in 1791 and flagged in Heller I. And the resulting decision rests on a rule so narrow that good-reason laws seem almost uniquely designed to defy it: that the law-abiding citizen’s right to bear common arms must enable the typical citizen to carry a gun.”

The same court had then denied the city’s request to have a further hearing on their law in the month of September, effectively finalizing the case at the appeals court level. The city had a week to decide whether or not to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and on Thursday they decided not to.

The D.C. attorney general office released a statement saying, “A loss in the Supreme Court could affect similar gun regulations in other jurisdictions—including in nearby states like Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The proliferation of guns in those places can have spillover effects for the safety of District residents.”

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation said, “We believe the city was under intense pressure to take the hit and not appeal the ruling by the U.S. District Court of Appeals. If the District had lost the case before the High Court, it would have dealt a fatal blow to similar requirements in California, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York, for example, and that prospect had anti-gun politicians in those states quaking in their shoes.”

“However, this decision opens the gate farther to an inevitable High Court confrontation because there are now conflicting opinions on concealed carry from the different circuit courts,” he added. “Common sense says that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause will not allow that conflict to continue.”

The Metropolitan Police Department, which is tasked with the issuing gun-carry permits in the D.C., said that it would stop enforcing the “good reason” clause once the federal court has issued its official mandate requiring it to do so.