Gun owners who live in the District of Columbia may soon be carry a firearm for self-defense, provided. The he D.C. Council voted on Tuesday to allow concealed carry of firearms in the city, provided the applicant meets some stringent requirements:
Members of the D.C. Council begrudgingly, but unanimously, voted for a bill that would allow individuals to carry the firearms if they meet a number of requirements.
“I don’t believe in guns. I don’t believe in carrying guns,” said council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat and a former four-term mayor. “I think the public ought to understand that all of us here are doing something we really don’t want to do.”
Under the new legislation, the city’s police chief would determine who has a valid reason for carrying a concealed weapon. The open brandishing of firearms will continue to be illegal.
Other requirements to qualify for a concealed carry permit include registration of the gun with the police department, 16 hours of safety training and two hours of range training, as well as a determination that the person has not suffered from a mental illness or condition that puts them at risk of being a danger to others.
A federal judge, in late July, ruled that the District’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns was unconstitutional, citing landmark gun rights cases District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010). In Heller, the Supreme Court strike down the District’s gun ban, ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, which is obvious to anyone who reads its text. That right was incorporated to the states in McDonald.
The was lawsuit filed by Tom Palmer, a co-defendant in the Heller case and libertarian scholar, and argued by Alan Gura, who argued Heller before the Supreme Court. The judge issued a 90-day stay of his ruling to give the D.C. Council time to come up with new statues consistent with the ruling.
Obviously, some of the regulations in the new law aren’t ideal. As noted in the excerpt above, an individual would have to display a justifiable need to qualify for a concealed carry permit. D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan has said that would include “death threats, being the victim of domestic violence and having the threats or reoccurrence” would be sufficient. Simply living in a bad neighborhood, however, wouldn’t be.
So, yeah, the new statute — which is temporary, so the council can come up with a permanent solution — is far from perfect, and it’ll probably result in more lawsuits due the high-hurdle set for gun owners to get a permit. But at the same time, the groundwork has been laid to continue liberalizing D.C.’s gun laws.