Appeals court blocks DC's concealed-carry law on Second Amendment grounds

Appeals court blocks DC's concealed-carry law on Second Amendment grounds”

A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked a District of Columbia law that makes it hard for gun owners to get concealed carry permits by requiring them to show that they have a good reason to carry a weapon.

The court waded through historical minutia concerning gun laws in the Anglo tradition, reviewing so-called Northampton laws and surety laws, which restricted the possession of firearms in crowded urban areas. The court said the Constitution guarantees a right to carry a firearm for self-protection for the law-abiding, even outside of the home. In fact, the most frequently disputed issued in gun rights cases for years has focused on whether the Amendment exists only for self-defense at one's home.

A US appeals court on Tuesday blocked a gun regulation in Washington, D.C., that limited the right to carry a handgun in public to people with a good reason for self-defense, handing a victory to gun rights advocates. The Amendment protects both a "right to keep" and a separate "right to bear" arms, and both of those are equally protected, the majority declared.

Struck down by the decision was a Washington, D.C., law that puts special restrictions on local residents' chance to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public. Though the Court has previously secured the right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense, it has avoiding cases concerned open and concealed carry laws.

Gun-rights activists have argued that the "good reason" clause in D.C.'s gun-carry law, and similar clauses in the gun-carry laws of other states, create a de facto ban where few people are legally allowed to carry a firearm for self-defense, even if they otherwise qualify for a permit.

"Bans on the ability of most citizens to exercise an enumerated right would have to flunk any judicial test". Right now D.C. prevents the most vulnerable people, particularly poor blacks who live in high crime areas of D.C., from having any hope of getting a permit for protection. The Circuit Court said that, since it had gone ahead and found that the law is unconstitutional, there was no need to send the cases back to the trial courts for a trial on that question.

"At the Second Amendment's core lies the right of responsible citizens to carry firearms for personal self-defense beyond the home, subject to longstanding restrictions", Judge Thomas Griffith wrote for the majority.

Judge Karen Henderson dissented, arguing that the court should defer to policymakers, who determined the law was necessary to ensure public safety.

The D.C. Circuit largely agreed with this conclusion, explaining that carrying outside the home for self defense is a core Second Amendment right, as plainly established by the Supreme Court's decisions in D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago.

Legendary journalist Lyle Denniston is Constitution Daily's Supreme Court correspondent.

"T$3 he Supreme Court has offered little guidance", the court wrote.

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