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In Major Win for 2nd Amendment Advocates, Federal Court Blocks D.C. from Enforcing Conceal-Carry Restriction

"The Second Amendment erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach."

Second Amendment advocates scored a significant legal victory today when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit blocked Washington, D.C., from enforcing a law that effectively bars most D.C. residents from lawfully carrying handguns in public. "The Second Amendment," the court declared, "erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach."

The case was Wrenn v. District of Columbia (consolidated with Grace v. District of Columbia). At issue was a District of Columbia regulation that limited conceal-carry licenses only to those individuals who can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the chief of police, that they have a "good reason" to carry a handgun in public. According to the District, applicants for a conceal-carry license must show a "special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life." Living or working "in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason."

The D.C. Circuit weighed those regulations against the text and history of the Second Amendment and found the regulations to be constitutionally deficient. "At the Second Amendment's core lies the right of responsible citizens to carry firearms for personal self-defense beyond the home, subject to longstanding restrictions," the D.C. Circuit held. "These traditional limits include, for instance, licensing requirements, but not bans on carrying in urban areas like D.C. or bans on carrying absent a special need for self-defense." The court added: "The Amendment's core at a minimum shields the typically situated citizen's ability to carry common arms generally. The District's good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents. That's enough to sink this law under" District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 case that struck down D.C.'s total ban on handguns.

Today's decision by the D.C. Circuit widens an already gaping split among the federal courts on this issue. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, "the Second Amendment does not protect in any degree the right to carry concealed firearms in public." By contrast, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit says that "one doesn't need to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms in the eighteenth century could not rationally have been limited to the home."

In Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule definitively on the scope of the Second Amendment outside the home. In the nine years since that landmark ruling was issued, the Court has declined several ripe opportunities to settle the matter once and for all.

In fact, just last month, the Court refused to review the 9th Circuit's dismissal of the right to carry, prompting Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, to lambast the Court for its "distressing trend" of refusing to hear any such cases and thereby treating "the Second Amendment as a disfavored right." As Thomas put it, "even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively."

That definitive answer apparently won't be coming anytime soon. For now, Second Amendment advocates will have to take heart in victories such as today's win at the D.C. Circuit.

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  • timbo||

    In this country, in the pathetic state the we are in and deteriorating to, I cannot believe it is still legal to own a fire arm in so many places.

  • Zeb||

    And getting easier to own and carry them in a lot of states.

    I'm still often amazed at how readily people in other countries have given up their gun rights. Even a lot of the more left wing people I know are pretty good on guns (this is small town NH, so YMMV).

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Animists hardest hit.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Are...are we talking about SIV again?

  • Dillinger||

    >>> the Court refused to review the 9th Circuit's dismissal of the right to carry

    pocket-veto appears personal and political.

  • Rhywun||

    the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively

    It's almost like some of them prefer to kick the can down the road or something.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Maybe it's looking for the right case, but frankly I don't look forward to that definitive answer.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    I think *most* of them prefer to kick the can down the road, and for pretty much the same reason - they're not sure they can convince Kennedy to decide with them, and would rather wait until the court changes so they have a majority without him.

  • Rich||

    "The Second Amendment erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach."

    Well, let's see: "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  • Citizen X - #6||

    But but but MUSKETS!!!!11!!one!

  • Rich||

    Can you imagine the outcry if everyone who wanted to started carrying a loaded musket around?

  • Rebel Scum||

    Mine is .75 cal. and has a bayonet! //assaultmusket

  • Zeb||

    Matchlock.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    I'm just going to start carrying a musket,
    and flintlock pistol,
    and a sword,

    and put a functional cannon on the back of my truck.

  • target||

    your quote forgot the part in the constitution about that being subject to longstanding restrictions.

    So, if a ban on concealed carry has been around longer than firearms license laws have now, do they become a longstanding restriction which can then breach those barriers?

  • prolefeed||

    You want to quote the part of the constitution where it says that the right to keep and bear arms is "subject to longstanding restrictions"?

    My copy of the constitution must be an abridged one, lacking such language.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    Commerce Clause, bruh.

  • Rebel Scum||

    "Federal Court Blocks D.C. from Enforcing Conceal-Carry Restriction
    The Second Amendment erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach."

    Hm. This is good. But we still have ways to go in striking down the many thousands of gun laws that are, on their face, unconstitutional.

  • ||

    The right to bare arms should be limited to congressmen with vaginas.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Misandry! RANK MISANDRY I tell you!

    {activates Alt-Right Signal, shines it into clouds}

  • Rebel Scum||

    applicants for a conceal-carry license must show a "special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life."

    You get to carry a gun, but only after you needed it.

    Living or working "in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason."

    Because fuck you, that's why.

    "These traditional limits include, for instance, licensing requirements

    I must have missed the "licensing requirement" clause...

  • target||

    you did, it's reich there between FY and TY

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    'reich' there. Boom.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Living or working "in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason."

    So just saying you live in DC is out as an excuse. Damn!

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    This is a dark day for the republic. I was looking forward to delegating more "constitutional rights" to the discretion of the local sheriff.

    For example: the right to vote. Shouldn't you have to get some sort of sign-off from the local Sheriff, before you go around voting here and there? And not just any justification should suffice: none of this, "I enjoy masturbating and pretending I'm involved!" nonsense. Do you have some special circumstance that warrants influence on our political leaders? Has the status quo injured you, somehow? Any exceptionally bright ideas about how we should change things? If not, STFU.

    Speaking of STFU, what about this "free speech", "free press" business? Do you have something to say? I don't mean just anything, like "Here: let me say something stupid!" Is it particularly witty? Does it contribute to everyone's welfare? You know: words can hurt. Do we really need to let you speech?

    Maybe the local sheriff should be deciding these things. He's an elected official, after all, and that means he's accountable to everyone. Market failure avoided FTW!

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