On Friday, Washington, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed the License to Carry a Pistol Emergency Amendment Act of 2014, an act that was ostensibly written to bring the city into compliance with a federal court decision that struck down its concealed carry ban in July. The new emergency legislation will last for 90 days, during which city officials say they will draft more comprehensive plans for concealed carry in the nation’s capital. While the abolition of DC’s concealed carry ban may seem like a victory for firearm owners, gun rights advocates say that the new law is more restrictive than they wanted.
Late last month the Washington, DC Council voted unanimously to pass the act, but many Councilmembers made it very clear that they opposed the federal court’s decision. Activists called the resulting legislation one of the strictest may-issue concealed carry laws in the nation. Applicants for a concealed carry permit will have to undergo at least 16 hours of training, present themselves for an in-person interview at the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, and provide “a good reason to fear injury to his or her person” in order to be eligible for a concealed carry permit. With the signing of the act, concealed carry in DC is illegal until the issue of permits, and police are authorized to arrest anyone carrying without a license.
“In the meantime, except as authorized for law enforcement, carrying a gun in public remains a criminal offense, and anyone found doing so will be subject to arrest,” stated the Metropolitan Police Department. “The District’s Office of the Attorney General is prepared to prosecute all cases within its jurisdiction. All firearms will be seized as contraband. Firearms with a valid registration in the District of Columbia will be held as contraband unless and until the person goes through the process of applying for a valid license to carry.”
Gun rights activists have vowed to fight the restrictive new law.
“It’s not much progress to move from a system where licenses are not available to a system where licenses are only available if the city feels like issuing them,” Alan Gura, the attorney behind the case that overturned the gun ban, told The Washington Post.
Gura criticized the city council for attempting to limit the effects of the federal ruling and argued that requiring applicants to provide a specific reason for concealed carry is “something of a joke.” Earlier this month Gura filed a motion on behalf of the Second Amendment Foundation and four other plaintiffs to block the DC government from enforcing its new law.