WASHINGTON (CN) – Local officials who want to see tougher restrictions on conceal-carry permits were dealt a loss Thursday when the D.C. Circuit declined to hold an en banc hearing on a prior ruling that made it easier to get those permits.
In July, a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled that city residents’ Second Amendment rights were violated when concealed-carry permit applications required them to show a “good reason to fear injury” or a “proper reason” to carry a concealed weapon.
Thursday’s two-page order came in response to petitions from the District of Columbia and others, asking the entire appeals court to take another look at the issue.
The judges did not explain their rationale for rejecting the petitions. The city must now decide within a week whether to ask the D.C. Circuit to stay the ruling while district officials consider a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement Thursday that he is reviewing the city’s options. He also said as things stand now, he believes police can continue to enforce the “good reason” requirement at least until a decision on an appeal is made.
Attorney Alan Gura, who represents Brian Wren, one of the D.C. residents who complained about the requirement, told the Washington Post he is pleased his client’s “victory remains intact” and that “people in Washington, D.C. will have the ability to defend themselves against violent crime.”
The permit fight began in 2014 when a federal judge overturned a citywide ban on carrying guns in public. The D.C. City Council responded by passing a law allowing for anyone to apply for a concealed-carry permit, so long as they showed “good reason.” That reason would have to include evidence of personal threats or a need to defend themselves.
Living in areas with higher crime rates would not be a qualifying consideration, however. When announced, the new requirement spurred a series of complaints from local residents who compared it to a thinly veiled ban on carrying handguns.
After learning of the appeals court’s decision on Thursday, D.C. city council member Charles Allen was dismayed.
“Our city will be less safe and with more guns on the streets and it will make the job of our metropolitan police officers all the more difficult,” he told the Washington Post.
According to the D.C. Police Department, as of July, 126 concealed-carry licenses have been approved, while 417 have been denied. Overall, the department reports that crime is down in the district by nine percent in comparison to 2016 levels.