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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Second Time’s the Charm for Gun Control in D.C.

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Second Amendment Foundation and three gun owners appealed to the D.C. Circuit after a federal judge upheld regulations that say would-be handgun owners need a "good reason" if they want to obtain a conceal-carry license.

The District of Columbia adopted the rule in an attempt to salvage its outright ban on handguns, which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller.

To get a conceal-carry license now, would-be gun owners must prove that they have a "good reason" to fear that their lives are in danger.

The Second Amendment Foundation and gun owners Brian Wrenn, Joshua Akery and Tyler Whidby brought a federal complaint over the scheme in February 2015, four months before it even went into effect.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied the group an injunction Monday, leading the gun advocates to file an immediate appeal. The district's licensing scheme will remain in force as the case moves forward.

In her 31-page ruling, Kollar-Kotelly said the plaintiffs failed to show a likelihood of success in their case or that an injunction against D.C.'s gun law would be in the public interest, particularly in such a densely populated area as Washington, D.C.

"Not only does the district itself have a strong interest in those objectives ... but the members of the public themselves have a strong interest in public safety and crime prevention," she wrote. "That interest is heightened here where the alleged constitutional violation pertains to the public carrying of operable handguns, which poses potential risks to others."

Kollar-Kottelly credited D.C.'s arguments that fewer guns will reduce gun violence. "Defendants have identified what appears to be substantial evidence of connections between public carrying of guns - and associated regulations on public carrying - and impacts on crime and public safety," she wrote.

Kollar-Kottelly is actually the second judge to preside over the challenge at hand. Though U.S. District Frederick Scullin had handed the gun proponents an injunction back when the case was filed in May, the D.C. Circuit set that decision aside a month later and ordered that a new judge hear the case.

Scullin, a visiting federal judge from New York, was found to have exceeded his jurisdictional authority.

A ruling against D.C.'s law would spell trouble for similar licensing schemes in New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

Heller, the police officer whose challenge to D.C.'s handgun ban found favor in the Supreme Court, is challenging the district's rewritten law as well.

After hearing Heller's latest challenge, a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit affirmed six of the law's provisions, but vacated four others.

Last month, the court declined to revisit that September ruling en banc.

The case now goes before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Alan Gura, an attorney for the Second Amendment Foundation with Gura & Possessky, did return phone calls seeking comment. The firm has offices in Washington and in Alexandria, Va.

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