Three-Time Loser

posted on June 20, 2016
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This feature appears in the July ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.

Court losses by the bumbling District of Columbia have resulted in the confirmation of an individual right to keep and bear arms in Heller, as well as the right to carry outside the home in Palmer. Now, a judge’s recent action threatens similar restrictive “may-issue” permit schemes in New York, Maryland and New Jersey. 

The District of Columbia suffered another setback in its struggle to restrict firearm freedoms when a federal judge suspended enforcement of D.C.’s law requiring lawful citizens to show “good reason” before granting them a permit to carry a firearm.

In a case filed by Matthew Grace and the Pink Pistols against the District, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted a request for the temporary injunction, saying the law violates the “core right of self-defense,” and quoting the Supreme Court’s decision in D.C. v. Heller in his 46-page opinion: “The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” The judge went on to call the D.C. scheme “exactly the type of policy choice the justices had in mind.”While this is just one step in the process of getting rid of D.C.’s punitive permitting process, it is the latest in an ongoing string of losses by the D.C. city council in its quest to prevent residents from protecting themselves with firearms.

While this is just one step in the process of getting rid of D.C.’s punitive permitting process, it is the latest in an ongoing string of losses by the D.C. city council in its quest to prevent residents from protecting themselves with firearms. The 2008 Heller decision struck down D.C.’s handgun ban and affirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms. In 2014’s Palmer v. D.C., Judge Frederick J. Scullin ruled against the city’s ban on carrying firearms in public, stating “the carrying of an operable handgun outside the home … constitutes ‘bear(ing) arms’ within the meaning of the Second Amendment.” This latest loss temporarily suspends D.C.’s restrictive permitting scheme, which allows D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to require citizens to demonstrate a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community … which demonstrate(s) a special danger to an applicant’s life.” This, of course, means that Lanier issues practically no permits at all—unless you are “special.”

D.C.’s permit scheme was copied from those in New York, Maryland and New Jersey, which could be in danger if a final ruling in this case finds D.C.’s process is unconstitutional.

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Randy Kozuch
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