Good News for Public Safety and D.C. Home Rule

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned a lower federal court decision that had struck down the D.C. Council’s licensing requirements for carrying a gun in public.

This is an important development, not only for public safety, but also for D.C. Home Rule. We applaud Attorney General Karl Racine and his team for helping achieve this result. It means that the licensing requirements established by the District’s locally elected officials will remain the law, at least for the time being.

The D.C. Circuit vacated the lower court’s decision because the visiting judge from New York who struck down the District’s law had not been properly assigned to the case. As the D.C. Circuit’s decision illustrates, under the law governing judicial assignments, it is important that visiting judges decide only cases to which they are specifically assigned, partly to ensure that local cases are decided by full-time local judges.

In light of the D.C. Circuit’s decision, the challenge to the District’s concealed carry licensing scheme will have to be litigated before a newly assigned local federal judge. As we said a few weeks ago, this will give the next judge an opportunity to correct two fundamental errors made by the visiting judge.

First, the visiting judge wrongly declined to defer to the D.C. Council’s determination that a “good cause” requirement for carrying guns on the streets of the District will protect public safety. Second, he appeared to agree with the plaintiffs that the Second Amendment requires the District to allow all individuals to carry guns in public, even if this leads to increased crime and threatens national security interests.

We welcome the D.C. Circuit’s decision today. It is good news for the public–and for D.C. Home Rule.

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