Judge's Ruling Overturns D.C. Handgun Ban. Licensed Carry Now Legal Unless A Stay Is Issued

[Update: A 90-day stay has been issued by the judge.]

If you’ve ever had the desire to carry a concealed handgun through the streets of Washington, D.C., you appear to have a temporary window of opportunity as District officials struggle to get a stay issued against a judge’s decision that struck down the city’s long-standing ban on carrying firearms outside the home.


D.C. police were ordered not to arrest citizens who had permits and were carrying handguns.

D.C. police were told Sunday not to arrest people for carrying handguns on the street in the wake of a judge’s ruling that overturned the city’s principal gun-control law.

However, the D.C. attorney general’s office said it would seek a stay of the ruling while the city decides whether to appeal.

In an order approved by Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, police were told that District residents are permitted to carry pistols if the weapons are registered. Those who had not registered their handguns could be charged on that ground, the instruction said.

The number of registered pistols is thought to be low.

Lanier’s instructions to police also said that residents of other jurisdictions without felony records would not be charged under the ban on carrying pistols.

District officials on Monday afternoon sought to temporarily halt a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the city’s ban on carrying handguns in public.

City lawyers filed their request even as police were working to understand the implications of the opinion that allows District residents, and in many cases those from other states, to begin carrying legally registered handguns on the streets of the nation’s capital.

“Unfortunately the recent court ruling has left many unanswered questions. We are meeting with the legal team for the city now to try to get those answers,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said in a statement.

“We will be issuing additional guidance to the force and the public shortly. As soon as we have that guidance ready, [we] will get it out immediately,” she said.

On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. declared the city’s ban on carrying pistols in public unconstitutional because the city did not have a process for issuing carry licenses to registered gun owners.

The District has already asked for a stay of the judge’s ruling.


The ruling doesn’t affect bans on carrying on District property, and so it is still illegal to carry in parks, schools, and other District owned buildings, and those areas prohibited under federal laws. Private businesses also have the right to post their signs against carrying arms on their property. A large number of places remain off-limits for concealed carriers.

And yet, Palmer vs. District of Columbia is another huge victory for the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and attorney Alan Gura, who has previously won important Second Amendment cases.

The District is pushing for a temporary stay keeping the current laws in place until they can craft concealed carry laws, 180 days, or whichever option will delay the inevitable the longest. We can expect that if granted the stay—which is likely—the District will drag out concealed carry implementation as long as possible, and once there is a concealed carry process in place, it will be as expensive, time-consuming, and arduous as possible to block as many citizens as possible from carrying firearms in as many places as possible.

The sadness among anti-gun statists is palpable.

“Whether or not the District decides to appeal this misguided decision, it would be a law enforcement nightmare if virtually anyone is allowed to carry loaded guns on the streets of the nation’s capital, where so many high-profile targets, tourists, foreign dignitaries and government officials could be placed at risk,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the legal action project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.


Pardon me if I dismiss that concern with a “yeah, whatever.”

Citizens have the right to carry arms (to one degree or another) in every state in the Union.  They will soon reestablish the right to carry firearms for personal protection outside the home in the nation’s capital.

Let freedom ring.

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