Pinch Yourself… Firearm Carry in DC?

Second Amendment FoundationUPDATE (7/29/2014) Motion to stay decision pending appeal granted.  While this is in place, you cannot legally carry in DC.

If you follow GunLink on social media like Twitter or Facebook, peruse the GunLink forums or listen to the “gun buzz,” you may have already heard the big news coming out of DC.  Over this past weekend, a major decision and order was handed down from the US District Court in the District of Columbia in Palmer et al. vs DC.

In case you haven’t been paying, this is the case where plaintiffs Palmer, Lyon, Raymond, McVey and the Second Amendment Foundation claim that “[b]y requiring a permit to carry a handgun in public, yet refusing to issue such permits and refusing to allow the possession of any handgun that would be carried in public, Defendants [the District of Columbia] maintain a complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public by almost all individuals” and that “banning the carrying of handguns in public violate[s] the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, facially and as applied against the individual plaintiffs in this action, damaging plaintiffs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

In a landmark win for rights in our nation’s capital, after the District Court heard arguments from Alan Gura – whose name you probably remember from such notable cases as McDonald V Chicago, DC v Heller, Moore v Madigan and others – Senior US District Court Judge Frederick Scullin Jr handed down his opinion (full text of opinion):

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. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code § 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code § 22-4504(a) 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.4 Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.

Following this decision, Emily Miller posted the following on her Facebook page: “Per DC Police Chief Lanier, the only gun arrests allowed now are DC residents with unregistered guns and non-residents who are prohibited under federal laws from possessing firearms. Everyone else is in the clear.”  This sounds a LOT like full carry reciprocity in DC.

As good as this all sounds, however, it may not all be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.  It is unclear whether people can or will still be arrested for violating other District laws regarding ammunition, magazines and the like (update: DC police chief memo says “individuals who do not live in the District shall not be charged with either unregistered firearm or unregistered ammunition, but other charges may apply.”).  Further, the opinion states that this moratorium on arrests for carrying applies “unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards.”  This means that DC’s gun control zealots are probably furiously scrambling to enact a strict licensing process that only just meets constitutional standards and still heavily regulates firearms possession.

This decision, along with other victories (such as allowing CCW in Illinois, recognizing the Second Amendment’s protection of an individual right to keep and bear arms) shows good momentum toward real common sense when it comes to gun laws.  It should also be a reminder that all hope is NOT lost when it comes to fighting these laws, codes, policies and statutes that infringe on our Second Amendment rights and that we should keep up that fight!


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