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Concealed Carry Restrictions Shot Down by DC Circuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on July 27, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a controversial ruling this week striking down D.C.'s restriction on carrying a concealed weapon.

Prior to the court's decision, the District of Columbia enforced a permitting system for individuals who wanted to carry a concealed weapon, legally. The permits would only be provided to those who had a good reason for having a concealed weapon, such as there being a known threat of harm or if the individual carries large amounts of cash or valuables as part of their occupation.

No Scrutiny Necessary

The court's reasoning went to great lengths to avoid applying any level of scrutiny to the law. The court found that no level of scrutiny was required as the good reason restriction was in effect an outright ban as it prevented the typical law abiding citizen from the constitutional right of bearing arms, and that warranted the law being struck down without any level of scrutiny analysis being applied.

The court specifically stated that: "The District's good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents. That's enough to sink this law under Heller I." It further explained that: "the individual right to carry common firearms beyond the home for self-defense-even in densely populated areas, even for those lacking special self-defense needs-falls within the core of the Second Amendment's protections."

Only Two Out of Three Out of Eleven Justices Agree

This appeal, which was actually two different appeals decided in one, was only heard by a panel of three justices, all of whom were Republican appointees. Interestingly, one of the three disagreed with the decision and issued a dissent decrying the misapplication of constitutional law.

The D.C. government attorneys can still request a rehearing en banc to get all 11 justices to rehear the matter. However, at this time, there is no indication that rehearing has been requested.

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