Washington DC Council Pushes Back on Carry Case, May Argue Entire District Should be “Off-Limits”

August 19 2014
by GSL Staff
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The attorneys for Washington DC in the Palmer case have asked for a 90 day extension before a judge’s ruling takes effect and effectively makes handgun carry legal in our nation’s capital.

Currently, DC has until October 22nd to put into place a system which will allow people to carry outside of the home. If they fail to do so, the District would essentially become a constitutional carry area.

DC is arguing that they need more time to either put a system into place or, more likely, challenge the ruling court. The document filed for the extension yesterday hints at the argument DC will attempt to make against carry.

Basically, DC will argue that the entire district should be treated the same as “off-limits” locations such as schools and some government buildings in other states.

From the filing,

Respectfully, there can be no doubt that the District has raised a very serious question on the merits. Neither the Supreme Court nor the D.C. Circuit has determined that the Second Amendment extends beyond the home. Plaintiffs appear to contend otherwise, see P.Mem. 4, but refer only to the implications of various Supreme Court dicta and, subsequently, implicitly concede the point by discussing what the Supreme Court “would” do in the future on that specific issue. Id. at 6. See, e.g., Williams v. State, 10 A.3d 1167, 1177 (Md. 2011) (“[I]t is clear that prohibition of firearms in the home was the gravamen of the certiorari questions in both [District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) (“Heller I”)] and [McDonald v. Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010)] and their answers. If the Supreme Court, in this dicta, meant its holding to extend beyond home possession, it will need to say so more plainly.”), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 93 (2011).2

Plaintiffs additionally argue that the District’s arguments regarding Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012), are “disingenuous.” P.Mem. at 6. Here, too, plaintiffs are incorrect. Only one circuit—the Seventh—has extended the Second Amendment right beyond the home in a jurisdiction (Illinois) that had not already, historically, recognized some form of public carrying. No court has addressed a ban on public carrying as unique as the District’s—a point plaintiffs do not rebut. The fact that the District’s law is “exceedingly rare” does not mean it is unconstitutional.

Basically, the people who run DC feel that the District is “special” and should be allowed to make laws that would be considered unconstitutional anywhere else in the country.

Last month, for about 48 hours, DC Metro Police announced they would cease enforcing the District’s carry laws. Some people posted videos and photos of themselves legally carrying firearms in our nation’s capital. However, a stay in the case was quickly granted to allow the DC Council to put in place a licensing system. Even if DC doesn’t appeal the decision and put’s a system into place it will likely be extremely strict, similar to the New York City system where only very special people are granted permits to carry.

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