Group Sues Washington, DC Over “Good Reason” Concealed Carry Requirement

   02.04.15

On Tuesday the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Washington, DC over what the group called “highly restrictive” requirements for applicants to obtain a concealed carry permit.

In 2014, a five-year legal battle between the city and gun rights advocates concluded with a federal court decision that struck down DC’s long-standing concealed carry ban. That decision led Mayor Vincent C. Gray to sign the License to Carry a Pistol Emergency Amendment Act of 2014 into law, which activists call one of the strictest may-issue laws in the country.

Among other provisions, the law requires applicants for a concealed carry permit to show “good reason” for carrying a firearm, such as fear of personal injury. Critics of the law say that more gun owners have been denied than approved since the amendment went into effect.

“The city’s requirements to obtain a carry permit are so restrictive in nature as to be prohibitive to virtually all applicants,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb in a press release. “It’s rather like a Catch 22, in which you can apply all day long, but no reason is sufficiently good enough for [Metropolitan Police] Chief Lanier to issue a permit.”

SAF’s lawsuit argues that applicants for concealed carry permits do not need to prove “good reason” for what is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution. Gottlieb contends that the may-issue law is burdening law-abiding citizens—who have already passed background checks and other measures—with additional and unnecessary requirements. Furthermore, he added that these requirements set the bar so high, the law not only is unconstitutional, but also violates previous court rulings.

“The last time we checked,” Gottlieb stated, “we had a Bill of Rights that applied to the entire nation, including the District. It’s not, and never has been, a ‘Bill of Needs.’”

Included as defendants in the lawsuit is the city of Washington, DC as well as Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier. The plaintiffs, three residents who were denied carry permits due to the “good reason” requirement, are being represented by a legal team including attorney Alan Gura. Gura was also involved in the Palmer v. DC case, which resulted in District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin throwing out the city’s concealed carry ban last July. The city is still appealing the ruling in that case.

Gura, who previously called the city’s may-issue law “something of a joke,” also claimed that the law violated Scullin’s ruling.

“We will give the courts every chance to bring Washington, DC into constitutional compliance,” he declared.

The Washington Times reported that only 11 out of 70 applicants have been approved for concealed carry permits since late October. The Metropolitan Police Department denied 22 requests and is still reviewing the remainder.

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