Washington, D.C. has dropped its appeal of the Palmer v. District of Columbia case, which forced the city to adopt a carry permitting structure. See our previous coverage of this important gun-rights case here and here and here.
Legal sources indicate that D.C. likely dropped its appeal at the behest of lawyers representing former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Reason: An adverse D.C. loss in Palmer could influence an upcoming en banc rehearing of the Peruta and Richards “may issue” decisions in California’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
By abandoning its appeal, D.C. would contain the damage anti-gun litigators suffered in Palmer to one district court, rather than a likely appeals-court loss that would occur at the same judicial level as Peruta. According to our source, “Bloomberg lawyers” see the field in California tilted their way because the head of the en banc panel rehearing Peruta was the dissenting vote in the original 2-1 decision which struck down San Diego’s “may carry” regulations.
In his original 19-page Palmer ruling, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., wrote, “In light of Heller, McDonald and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”
Additionally, the court enjoined “Defendants from enforcing the home limitations [of D.C. firearms laws] 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.”
The court also ordered the city to allow legally qualified residents from the District and other states to carry weapons within its boundaries.
This is not the end of the Palmer case, however. The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), which funded the court battle and was one of the original plaintiffs, along with Tom G. Palmer, George Lyon, Edward Raymond, and Amy McVey, still has outstanding enforcement motions pending before Judge Scullin. His rulings on those motions could produce further appeals, SAF attorney Alan Gura explained. SAF has already filed a lawsuit challenging the District’s current highly-restrictive “good reason” requirement.
Under the District’s newly-adopted law, permit applicants must still provide a good reason for carrying a protective firearm outside the home, and the police chief gets to decide whether that reason is valid. So far, only a handful of applicants have been approved, a situation similar to many counties in California.
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said, “While we’re happy to see the city drop [its] appeal of our earlier victory, we were eager to face them in court, as there was no possible way they could have successfully argued in favor of continuing an outright ban on carry in the District.
“No public official should enjoy that kind of sway over a citizen’s right to bear arms,” Gottlieb said. “It creates a manifestly unfair system that is wide open to abuse and favoritism, as we’ve seen in New York, California and elsewhere that insiders and elitists can get permits, but average citizens are routinely given second-class consideration, or no consideration at all.”
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