Washington, D.C., officials are drafting legislation to comply with a federal court ruling that the city’s previous gun ban was unconstitutional, but critics say the new regulations don’t go far enough to protect Second Amendment rights.
The proposed permitting process would allow for the concealed carry of legally owned handguns only by people with a “good cause” to do so, according to The Washington Times.
“Living in a high-crime area is not sufficient to establish the good cause,” Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said, defending the proposed law. “Getting death threats, being the victim of domestic violence and having the threats or recurrence, that would be good cause. It has to be personalized. It has to be something specific.”
The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether local governments can require citizens to prove “good cause” that they need a firearm for self-defense, but a law with similar requirements was struck down in California earlier this year, leading many to think that D.C. is simply setting itself up for another lawsuit.
One of the attorneys in the original suit that resulted in the overturning of the D.C. gun ban, Alan Gura, seemed to confirm that the current plan, if enacted, would only engender further litigation.
“In America, the police don’t determine what rights we have good reason to enjoy,” Gura said. “You don’t need a good reason to speak, to worship, to vote or to carry a gun for self-defense.”
City officials were not shy about their reluctance to lift the city’s gun ban at the behest of the court.
Mayor Vincent Gray’s comment was typical. “It’s my view that the District needs less [sic] guns, not more guns,” he said.
Under the new plan, the city’s chief of police would process concealed carry permit applications. In addition to demonstrating need, applicants would be required to complete 18 hours of training, including two hours on a gun range, as well as a background check to rule out evidence of mental illness that might indicate a risk factor.
If the permit is denied, the requestor would have the right to appeal to a five member panel appointed by Mayor Gray – the same Mayor Gray who expressed his belief that there were already too many guns in the city.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson predicted that of the approximately 3,000 legal gun owners in Washington, perhaps “hundreds” would be entitled to concealed carry permits under the new plan.
His comments indicated that city leaders were being reluctantly forced by the courts to allow residents to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“It’s not going to be a large number,” he said, “and it’s not going to be soon.”
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