D.C. Resists Reforming Its Gun Laws

Law Shield was unhappy to learn that the Washington, D.C. City Council unanimously passed an emergency bill that created a highly-restrictive “may-issue” concealed-carry licensing system in the District. The legislation seems designed to effectively prohibit the carrying of firearms while the District continues to litigate the Palmer case.

On July 26, 2014, a trial court judge interpreted the Second Amendment to allow individuals to carry guns outside of the home, and struck down the District’s carry ban. The judge’s ruling in the case of Palmer v. District of Columbia allowed residents and non-residents alike to carry handguns, but the ruling was stayed for 90 days to allow the District to appeal the decision, or institute a licensing scheme that regulates the carrying of guns in public.

The law will be in effect for only 90 days, which will give the council more time to develop a permanent law.

The council tried unsuccessfully to maintain the current law while it appeals the ruling, but the court denied the District’s motion for an indefinite stay pending appeal.

With the initial 90-day stay set to expire on October 22, the council reluctantly passed its bill. And the council’s enthusiasm for following the court’s order was underwhelming.

Councilmember David Grosso said, “We’d like to have much stricter no carry rules at all … preferably no guns at all.”

Grosso went on to lament that courts have forced the council into this “difficult situation,” ignoring the fact that the council repealed D.C.’s prior law for the issuance of carry licenses after Heller. As in Heller itself, the comprehensive ban on carrying that resulted was such an outlier that it effectively forced the court’s hand.

Also, Law Shield doesn’t hold out much hope that privacy concerns about gun ownership will be respected. Councilmember Grosso was in favor of making the names of licensees public. “We should at least give our neighbors and residents a chance to know who has the gun, put it up there …” he said, “we’ll all know who it is and we can treat them differently ….”

 

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