DC Mayor Signs Emergency Concealed Carry Legislation

The media was buzzing Monday with the news that Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray has signed into law emergency legislation allowing for concealed carry permits for gun owners who qualify. According to the popular local news site dcist.com, Gray signed the “License to Carry a Pistol Emergency Amendment Act of 2014” late Thursday, October 9, 2014. His action follows a ruling by the U.S. District Court that overturned DC’s long-time ban on carrying firearms in any fashion in public.

The new law was passed by the D.C. council and was written in response to the decision in Palmer v. District of Columbia, which found the city’s gun laws were unconstitutional. The emergency legislation gives Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier the ability to approve and deny applications for a concealed carry license. Appeals will be heard by a five member board.

The law requires those seeking a concealed carry permit to prove they have a “legitimate need” to be armed and to keep the weapon concealed. This includes, “a good reason to fear injury to his or her person, which shall at a minimum require a showing of a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks.”

The new legislation also addresses mental illness. Applicants cannot be suffering, or have suffered, from a mental illness or condition in the past five years and those applying must submit to 18 hours of range and classroom training. Chief Lanier and Attorney General Irv Nathan stated in a joint press release that the law, “cures the alleged constitutional flaws in the District’s licensing laws found by a U.S. District Court in the Palmer case.”

We have written extensively about the U.S. District Court’s ruling from last July, and the 90-day stay that the court issued to allow DC officials time to revamp their laws in a way that would be “consistent with the court’s ruling.” As we noted in our previous blog:

DC Mayor Signs Legislation Allowing Concealed CarryPrior to the 2008 ruling, a total handgun ban had been in place for 32 years. After the 2008 ruling, the law required residents to register their guns and keep them in their homes. Gun owners were also required to take a safety class, be photographed and fingerprinted, and re-register their weapons every three years. Those requirements were challenged in May, but were upheld by a federal judge.

Judge Scullin’s decision cited the 2008 court case as well as a 2010 ruling involving Chicago’s handgun ban. As a result of Saturday’s ruling, DC police officers were initially instructed not to enforce laws prohibiting the carrying of guns in public as long as they were registered.

In answer to the question posed in the title of this blog, one can assume that DC’s ban on guns in public applies as long as the stay remains in place. Therefore, those of you with registered weapons would be wise to refrain from carrying your gun in public in the District of Columbia, at least until the matter is settled in October. In the meantime, city officials, and many others, will have to work out answers to a number of legal questions prompted by the ruling. This includes whether or not the elimination of the handgun ban would grants people the right to carry handguns on the National Mall or at the White House, or in the vicinity of a presidential motorcade or similar event.

If you have been charged with a gun-related offense in Washington, DC, our attorneys have extensive experience in successfully defending clients in the District on such charges and will work to see your case dismissed or, if that’s not likely, the charges reduced. Call today to schedule an initial, no-cost consultation.