For anybody who loves their civil rights, the dismantling of unconstitutional gun control schemes across the United States has been a marvel to behold. Today, only a handful of states continue to substantively restrict the ability of law-abiding residents to carry concealed handguns.

One of those “states” still aggressively crushing fundamental civil rights is, ironically enough, the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia. Pro-gun advocates suffered a modest and rare setback yesterday, according to and other sources, when a federal appeals court re-instated a gun control provision that that is used to effectively deny gun permits to almost all applicants.

The District has long operated under some of the most oppressive gun control laws in the country, at one point even requiring the few guns legally owned to be dismantled while within the District. (These rules were upheld in spite of the fact that DC was also one of the “murder capitals” of the country, and practically awash in illegally owned guns used by criminals.)

In recent years, however, the District’s gun control scheme has come under assault in the form of a pro-2nd Amendment attack led by civil rights attorney Alan Gura. Last July, as part of a suit brought by Gura, Federal Judge Frederick Scullin ordered that the District begin issuing concealed carry permits to qualified persons.

The District did so, but of course not in good faith. They built into their licensing scheme a condition also employed in the other remaining gun control jurisdictions that while nominally allowing for concealed carry licensing in practice continues to deny permits to all but the wealthy and politically connected.

That condition is what is commonly referred to as the “good reason” provision. A simple desire to be able to defend oneself from a future crime is deemed insufficient justification to be granted a permit. Instead, one must have a specific reason—for example, a particularized threat to one’s person—that satisfies the subjective and ill-defined criteria of the licensing authority.

Such “good reason” provisions are currently in place in states such as New Jersey, New York, and Maryland, and are used to effectively deny concealed carry permits to the vast majority of the population. Circuit courts with jurisdiction over those states have upheld their “good reason” provisions, which is what led the District to incorporate it into their purported licensing scheme.

Gura, who is no fool, immediately launched an attack on the District’s “good reason” provision—an attack that achieved success with a ruling from Judge Scullin last month.  (Scullin’s ruling, which includes relevant history on the fight against unconstitutional gun control in the District, is embedded below.)

Naturally, the District objected and appealed to the relevant federal court, even as they began to process scores of concealed carry permits consistent with Judge Scullin’s ruling.  The district’s position was laid out before that court this past Friday, and was reported by American University Radio:

And on Friday, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine argued in a court filing that since similar laws had been upheld in other states, a stay should be granted pending a full appeal.

“Three federal circuits have considered provisions similar to the District’s ‘good reason’ standard, and all three have upheld the standard, citing the same considerations the District relies on here. Especially given the weakness of plaintiffs’ showing of a threat of irreparable injury — their theory is that they need not show any particularized need to carry handguns — a stay is warranted,” said the filing.

The current stay is only temporary; Racine still has to make the case for a longer stay that will apply as the full appeal of Scullin’s May ruling plays out. But on Friday he said that the stays are necessary as the court untangle the legal issues surrounding the city’s concealed carry law.

“The law the District’s officials have adopted is in line with laws in New Jersey, New York and Maryland — all of which have been upheld by federal appeals courts,” he said. “We believe we will prevail on appeal, and a stay is necessary to maintain the status quo in the law while the courts consider constitutional issues with important implications for public safety.”

Yesterday that federal appeals court issued a temporary injunction that suspended Judge Scullin’s suspension of the District’s “good cause” requirement, putting the “back door” gun control scheme back into effect.

The reinstatement of the “good reason” is temporary, and will be fully considered by the federal appeals court.

In the meantime, however, the District is expected to once again begin denying gun permit applications to essentially all applicants on the basis of this “good reason” provision.

As promised, here’s Judge Scullin’s May ruling that suspended the District’s “good reason” requirement:

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.


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