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D.C. Judge Grants Temporary Injunciton Against D.C. Gun Permit Law

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 13:25
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Judge Richard J. Leon has issued a tightly reasoned opinion granting a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the District of Columbia’s unreasonably restrictive handgun licensing scheme.  In effect, Judge Leon ruled that the District scheme was a thinly veiled ban on the carry of arms outside the home for the purposes of self defense in the District of Columbia.


A federal judge told D.C. to stop enforcing its concealed-carry gun law, which requires people to have a “good reason” in order to get a permit from police to carry guns.

This may seem like deja vu … and that’s because it isn’t the first time a federal judge overturned District legislation on guns. The previous ruling prompted the D.C. Council to pass a law designating where licensed owners can carry handguns in public. They have to demonstrate they have a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.”

Judge Leon found that it was likely that the plantiff’s arguments would prevail in the civil case, and that irreparable harm would result if they were denied their right to bear arms in the interim. Second Amendment supporters have been saying this for decades.  Most people would find it obvious upon casual reflection. 

As the good judge observes, the denial of a fundamental Constitutional right is, by definition, irreparable harm.  To reach this conclusion, Judge Leon first shows that Second Amendment rights extend outside the home.  Again, to impartial observers, this is obvious.  But to those who have been insisting that the Second Amendment is a legal nullity for a hundred years, there is no pretzel twisted logic that is a reach too far.  Judge Leon demolishes those weak and nonsensical attempts.  From Judge Richard J. Leon’s opinion (pdf):

Given the textual and historical evidence, I have little trouble concluding that under its original meaning the Second Amendment protects a right to carry arms for self- defense in public. Of course, Judge Scullin already reached this same conclusion in Palmer. 59 F. Supp. 3d at 182. And, not surprisingly, the Court of Appeals panels that have directly addressed the issue have also reached the same conclusion. See Moore, 702 F.3d at 936 right to bear arms thus implies a right to carry a loaded gun outside the home?); Peruta, 742 F.3d at 1166 (“T]he carrying of an operable handgun outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense, though subject to traditional restrictions, constitutes ‘bear[ing] Arms’ within the meaning of the Second Amendment”) (alteration in original). And other circuits have at least been willing to so assume. See Bonidy, 790 F.3d at 1125; Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865, 876 (4th Cir. 2014); Drake v. Filko, 724 F.3d 426, 431 (3d Cir. 2013); Kachalsky v. County of Westchester, 701 F.3d 81, 89 (2d Cir. 2012). Indeed, no Court of Appeals to date has found to the contrary.

The opinion was only filed a few hours ago.  The Washington Post has great sources inside the federal judiciary.  I found a Link to archive of Grace et al v. District of Columbia et al. The opinion has not been added to the archive of the case documents at that site, but I expect it will be added shortly.

It is likely that the District of Columbia will ask the  District of Columbia Court of Appeals to stay the injunction pending an appeal.  That is what the District did in previous cases.  There were differences in those cases, however, and it is not clear if the D.C. Court of Appeals will grant a stay in this case.  We should find out shortly.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.  Link to Gun Watch


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