Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another Win For Carry In DC (Updated)

US District Court Judge Frederick Scullin granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs who had challenged the District of Columbia's "good reason"/"proper reason" requirement for obtaining a carry permit. The case, Wrenn et al v. District of Columbia et al, was a follow-on case to Palmer v. District of Columbia and was filed after the DC City Council adopted their new carry regulations.

The court found that the plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation stood a good chance of winning a permanent injunction based upon the merits of their argument. Under legal precedent, a preliminary injunction is only granted if that can be shown.

Examining the existing DC law using intermediate scrutiny standard as established in the DC Circuit by Heller II, Judge Scullin found:
The District of Columbia's arbitrary "good reason"/"proper reason" requirement, however, goes far beyond establishing such reasonable restrictions. Rather, for all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The Second Amendment Foundation was very pleased with Judge Scullin's order. In their release below, they call it a "devastating loss" for DC and its gun control policies. The release points out more about the decision as well.
BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today won a preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s enforcement of a requirement to provide a “good reason” when applying for a concealed carry permit.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin ordered that the city is “enjoined from denying handgun carry licenses to applicants who meet the requirements of D.C. Code 22-4506(a) and all other current requirements for the possession and carrying of handguns under District of Columbia law.”

Judge Scullin further wrote in his 23-page opinion that the District’s “good reason/proper reason” requirement “has far more than a ‘de minimis’ effect on [their] rights it completely bars the right from being exercised, at all times and places and in any manner, without exception” and that the requirement “impinges on Plaintiff’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.’

“This is a devastating loss for the District and its anti-gun-rights policy,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We’re delighted with the judge’s ruling, because once again, the court has thwarted the District’s blatantly obvious effort to discourage the exercise of Second Amendment rights by forcing permit applicants to jump through a series of hoops and then frustrate them by requiring an arbitrary ‘good reason’ for the exercise of a constitutionally-protected civil right.”

Gottlieb said that the court ruling essentially says the “good reason” requirement does not pass the smell test.

“It stinks, and always did stink, and now everybody knows it,” Gottlieb said.

The order also says that attorneys for both sides shall appear for a conference with the court on July 7, to “discuss an expedited schedule for the resolution of this case.”

“You can’t ask for more than that,” Gottlieb said. He noted that this is the second time in a row the District has lost on a carry issue in a case involving SAF.

“This is getting to be rather tiring,” he said. “To quote the renowned American folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, ‘when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?’”

UPDATE: The Firearms Policy Coalition did a good breakdown on the decision. It can be found here.

Also see this from Brian Doherty at Reason.

It also made the Washington Post. Spencer Hsu took great pains to point out that Judge Scullin's rulling differed from precedent set in the 3rd and 4th Circuits.
Scullin’s ruling runs counter to decisions by federal judges upholding similar “may-issue” discretionary laws in Maryland and New Jersey, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in March set aside a three-judge panel’s ruling relied upon by Scullin, and the full court will rehear arguments next month.
While that is very true, Judge Scullin is bound by precedents set in the Circuit for the District of Columbia. He pointed to Heller II as being instructive as to the level of scrutiny (intermediate). He also acknowledged the precedents set in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Circuits were "uninstructive" and that those courts either accorded too much deference to the legislature or did not address whether the law or regulation was "no broader than necessary to achieve the government's substantial objectives."

The full opinion can be found here.


  1. John,

    Do you think this reiteration of what Intermediate Scrutiny should mean will be helpful in influencing the Peruta en banc panel, since he based his reasoning on the reasoning in Peruta?

  2. John,

    Do you think this reiteration of what Intermediate Scrutiny should mean will be helpful in influencing the Peruta en banc panel, since he based his reasoning on the reasoning in Peruta?