The District of Columbia is determined to infringe on law-abiding residents’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the district’s ban against handguns in 2008, but the government continues to restrict gun rights by requiring residents to provide a “good reason” for carrying these defensive weapons. Living in a high-crime area isn’t a good enough reason.
A federal appeals court panel heard arguments this week in two cases on the right to carry. One of the city’s attorneys argued that it’s okay for people to carry handguns in the countryside and have them in their homes, but not while walking around in large urban areas. In fact, D.C. claims to base its gun-restriction law on English Common law that barred carrying guns in populated areas.
Courthouse News reported that one judge was taken aback by this argument (emphasis added):
But two of the three panel members — all of whom were Republican appointees — seemed skeptical of the city’s justifications after Holly Johnson, who represented the city in the Wrenn case, said people have the right to carry guns in places like the countryside or the home, but that governments can restrict that right in places where public safety interests warrant it, Judge Thomas Griffith scoffed.
“But not in the city?” he said rhetorically. ‘That’s absurd.”
The judges seemed to lean toward the plaintiffs, or rather, the Second Amendment. Good news for D.C. residents who want to carry handguns for personal protection.
Griffith pressed both of the city’s lawyers to consider a hypothetical in which a woman living alone in a dangerous neighborhood decides she would like to get a gun in order to protect herself.
Under the city’s gun law, living in a dangerous neighborhood alone is not enough justification for a person to receive a concealed carry permit unless they can point to an actual threat against them.
The other government attorney said the hypothetical woman “could point to a neighbor whose house was robbed” to justify acquiring a concealed-carry permit.
Judge Stephens implied that this was arbitrary. “How close does the neighbor have to be in that hypothetical?”
Law-abiding Americans should have the right to carry firearms “just because,” and even if they live in a neighborhood with only one crime a decade. Some gun rights advocates believe having to obtain a concealed-carry permit is unconstitutional. Certain states have implemented “constitutional carry” — carrying openly or concealed with no government permission required.