On Thursday, September 28, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals officially denied Washington D.C.’s request to rehear the cases of Grace v. District of Columbia and Wrenn v. District of Columbia. These cases challenge Washington D.C.’s restrictive “good reason” requirement (i.e., a special need beyond self-defense) for the issuance of a CCW on the grounds that it violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. As a result of today’s decision, Washington D.C. must either petition the United States Supreme Court to rehear the case, or accept the fact that their “good reason” requirement is unconstitutional.
Last July, a 3-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision prohibiting Washington D.C. from enforcing its “good reason” requirement. The law at issue requires law-abiding citizens who wish to carry a firearm in public to first obtain a license, but also restricts the issuance of licenses to those citizens who can show a specific, documented need for self-defense—for example, by proving that they have been previously attacked or have been receiving death threats.
As stated by the Court in its opinion, “history matters, and here it favors the plaintiffs.” For in reading the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Heller, and early historical sources, the Court concluded 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.”
As a result, the Court ruled D.C.’s “good reason” requirement, which requires individuals applying for a CCW in Washington D.C. to demonstrate a special need beyond mere self-defense, unconstitutional.
Washington D.C. immediately petitioned the D.C. Circuit to rehear the case by a larger “en banc” panel of judges, arguing that allowing ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry firearms—as is allowed in 42 of the 50 states (including major cities like Chicago, Houston, Miami, and Philadelphia)—would somehow “increase crime and cost lives.”
If that strategy sounds familiar to you, it is because that is exactly what the California Attorney General did following a monumental 3-judge panel opinion in the NRA and CRPA supported case of Peruta v. San Diego, which held California’s restrictive “good cause” requirement unconstitutional. This new D.C. court ruling seems to create a circuit split that might cause the Supreme Court to pay closer attention to the case, or a future legal challenge.
In today’s unanimous decision from the D.C. Circuit Court, not a single judge dissented from denying Washington D.C.’s request for a rehearing. Washington D.C. is now left with no choice but to amend its policies to no longer require a “good reason” for the issuance of a CCW, or to appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court. Either course of action has the potential to significantly change the legal landscape regarding the right to carry both in California and across the nation.
Both the NRA and the CRPA, along with several prominent law enforcement groups, joined the Grace plaintiffs in their fight for the right to carry as amicus curiae. To read the CRPA Foundation’s amicus brief, click here. To read the NRA’s amicus brief, click here.
“This ruling could have a tremendous positive impact on the ongoing legal fight for the right to carry in California,” said CRPA President and General Counsel Chuck Michel. “CRPA is proud to be working with NRA in California and as an amicus in these D.C. cases, and looks forward to using the courts to force bureaucrats and elitist politicians in California to respect the right to bear arms for those law abiding gun owners who choose to possess and carry firearms to defense themselves or their family in public.”
To learn more about the Grace case, as well as other important Second Amendment issues, make sure you are subscribed to NRA and CRPA email alerts. You can also view all of the court filings in the Grace case at http://michellawyers.com/grace-v-district-of-columbia/. And be sure to visit the NRA-ILA California webpage at www.standandfightCalifornia.com and CRPA’s webpage at www.CRPA.org.