The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday put a hold on Washington, D.C.’s attempt to keep residents from carrying concealed handguns for self-defense, a move gun rights activists are considering a win.

In a 2-1 decision, the three-judge panel issued an injunction against the good-cause law, which required residents to have a viable reason for obtaining a concealed carry pistol license.

Before Tuesday’s injunction, D.C. residents had to prove they needed to carry a firearm for one of the following reasons, as explained on the concealed carry license application:

  • Good reason to fear injury to person or property. You fear injury to yourself and can show a special need for self-protection, such as evidence of specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to your life.
  • Other proper reason to carry a concealed property. Your employment requires that you handle large amounts of cash or valuables that you must transport on your person. Or you are the adult member of a family that needs to provide protection for a family member who is physically or mentally incapacitated to a point where he or she cannot act in defense of himself or herself or his or her property.

The court had to take into account whether or not the Second Amendment extends to a person’s need for self-defense outside of the home.

According to gun owners who were challenging the law, the restrictions violated their Second Amendment rights because it was extremely difficult to obtain a permit.

A large part of the court’s opinion stemmed from District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark 5-4 Supreme Court case that protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for self-defense purposes in their homes.

“In fact, the Amendment’s core at a minimum shields the typically situated citizen’s ability to carry common arms generally,” Circuit Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote in the majority opinion Tuesday. “The District’s good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents. That’s enough to sink this law under Heller I.”

According to the majority opinion, self-defense extends past the home and is thus protected under the Second Amendment. Griffith continued:

But the fact that the need for self-defense is most pressing in the home doesn’t mean that self-defense at home is the only right at the Amendment’s core. After all, the Amendment’s core lawful purpose is self-defense, and the need for that might arise beyond as well as within the home. Moreover, the Amendment’s text protects the right to “bear” as well as “keep” arms. For both reasons, it’s more natural to view the Amendment’s core as including a law-abiding citizen’s right to carry common firearms for self-defense beyond the home (subject again to relevant “longstanding” regulations like bans on carrying “in sensitive places”).

It is unclear whether or not the city will appeal the decision to the full Circuit Court.

Source: Beth Bauman,

Webmaster note: Here is more on the background and ramifications of this case.