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A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a District of Columbia gun-control measure that the court said is essentially an outright ban of the Second Amendment. D.C. requires gun owners to have a “good reason” to obtain a concealed carry permit.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the regulation as too restrictive in a 2-1 decision. “The good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun in the face of ordinary self-defense needs,” Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote, according to the paper. “Bans on the ability of most citizens to exercise an enumerated right would have to flunk any judicial test.”
“We are bound to leave the District as much space to regulate as the Constitution allows — but no more,” wrote Judge Thomas B. Griffith. “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.”
Griffith was joined in the decision by Judge Stephen F. Williams. The dissenting opinion came from Judge Karen L. Henderson.
In nullifying the law, the Circuit Court rejected the local government’s argument that the law was justified by the public safety needs due to the dense population of the Washington, D.C., area, the presence in the city of many prominent government and foreign officials, and a high-crime rate keyed to access to guns.
Judge Henderson wrote in her dissent that the District’s regulation “passes muster” because of the city’s unique security challenges as the nation’s capital and because it does not affect the right to keep a firearm at home.
The ruling marked the latest defeat for the local government in the nation’s capital – its third straight failure with a local gun control law. Its first loss, in 2008 in the Supreme Court, led to a sweeping 5-to-4 ruling that the Constitution’s Second Amendment protects a personal right to have a gun for self-defense.
Although the Washington, D.C., government would now have the option of going back to the Supreme Court to challenge Tuesday’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit, the Justices have refused repeatedly to clarify just how far the Second Amendment right extends.
Residents who want a permit to carry a concealed firearm in D.C. must now show that they have “good reason to fear injury” or a “proper reason,” such as transporting valuables. The regulations specify that living or working “in a high crime area shall not by itself” qualify as a good reason to carry.