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DC Circuit Lets Stand Concealed-Carry Law

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 02, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Following a discharge from an appeals court, a shoot-out over permits to carry guns in public appears headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a request to reconsider its previous decision, which upheld a local permit law. The law gives wide discretion to law enforcement to grant permits to applicants who show "good reason" to carry guns.

Opponents believe the Supreme Court will take up the case, but for now they have lost at every level of the judicial system.

No Scrutiny

In Wrenn v. District of Columbia, the appeals court affirmed a trial court decision. It wasn't even close: the judges said there was no level of constitutional scrutiny necessary to review the concealed-carry law.

"[T]he 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," the panel said.

There was a dissent, however, and the appellant asked for en banc review. The appeals court denied the request, apparently without a single judge requesting a vote on the question.

Eugene Volokh, writing for the Washington Post, said "the court will almost certainly agree to hear the case." He said there is a split of authority on the issue.

Loaded Case

The Second, Third, Fourth, and Ninth circuits generally say there is no right to carry. The DC and Seventh circuits say there is, Volokh wrote.

In Moore v. Madigan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturned an Illinois law that prohibited most people from carrying guns. Judge Richard Posner, a respected jurist who recently retired, wrote that opinion in 2012.

Gun rights advocacy groups said the appeal in the DC Circuit would be meritless. According to reports, only 126 concealed-carry permits have been issued in the jurisdiction that has 600,000 residents.

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