A federal judge has ruled that a key provision of the District’s new gun law is likely unconstitutional, ordering D.C. police to stop requiring individuals to show “good reason” to obtain a permit to carry a firearm on the streets of the nation’s capital.
In imposing a preliminary injunction pending further litigation, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon reignited a running battle over the Second Amendment in the District and its courts where three different judges have now weighed in with varying conclusions.
“The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table,” Leon wrote in a 46-page opinion, quoting a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 in another District case that established a constitutional right to keep firearms in one’s home.
Leon said that the right applies both inside and outside the home.
“The District’s understandable, but overzealous, desire to restrict the right to carry in public a firearm for self-defense to the smallest possible number of law-abiding, responsible citizens is exactly the type of policy choice the Justices had in mind,” he wrote.
The law gives police discretion to grant licenses to applicants who show “good reason to fear injury” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol,” such as having a job transporting cash or other valuables. The city’s law, among the strictest in the nation, matches those in Maryland, New Jersey and New York that have been upheld by federal appeals courts elsewhere.