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Saturday, July 26, 2014

DC Federal Judge: Ban on Carrying Guns in Public Violates Second Amendment

The case is Palmer v. District of Columbia. Earlier today, Judge Frederick Scullin of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ordered a permanent injunction against the enforcment of sections 7-2502.02(a)(4) and 22-4504(a) of the District of Columbia Code. These sections prohibit the licensing and carrying of concealed firearms. The Washington Post and Reuters have coverage of the opinion. The text of the opinion is available here.

I have only had time to skim the text of the opinion itself. The court relies heavily on Peruta v. County of San Diego, where the Ninth Circuit struck down San Diego's restrictions on concealed carry permits. I discussed Peruta in this post. There, I noted that the Ninth Circuit stuck to the language of the Supreme Court's opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller and was able to reach its decision without applying a clearly defined level of scrutiny to the gun restriction. That appears to be the case in the Palmer holding as well. From the opinion:

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. 
The district court notes that "reasonable restrictions" on carrying firearms did not raise the same constitutional concerns, noting the Seventh Circuit's language in Moore v. Madigan that these restrictions would not infringe the right to self defense. Moreover, the district court includes language indicating that governments can restrict firearm possession by felons, children, and the mentally ill.

In my post on Peruta, I pointed out the split in authority on the scope of the right to carry guns in public. Palmer is a noteworthy addition to this list of cases, and I hope that it is appealed, since this would bring the issue of public carrying of firearms back to the federal appellate level once again.

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