Federal appeals court issues stay on DC handgun case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has granted an injunction over a lower court’s order that the city halt its harsh “good cause” test for granting concealed handgun permits.

A three-judge panel Friday issued the order that blocks the decision made by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. who halted the strict requirement to prove a need or good reason to obtain a permit beyond a desire for self-defense. The appeals court cited that the ruling is to allow time for the court to weigh the city’s larger appeal of the case in general.

“The purpose of this administrative stay is to give the court sufficient opportunity to consider the merits of the motion for stay and should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion,” cites the order from the panel made up of Judges David S. Tatel, Patricia Ann Millett and Janice Rogers Brown, appointments to the bench by Presidents Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush respectively.

The stay is the first victory enjoyed by the District in a pair of cases brought by the Second Amendment Foundation, Palmer and Wrenn, that have attacked the city’s concealed carry laws over the past half-decade.

In Palmer last May, Scullin held that, “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.”

This led the District to implement what many Second Amendment advocates referred to as a “no-issue” gun permitting scheme that saw just eight of 69 applications approved.

That landed the city back in court in the Wrenn case, filed on behalf of Brian Wrenn and two other applicants who were denied permits over the good cause requirement.  Scullin again took the city to task and granted an injunction last month to halt the practice pending appeal.

“Plaintiffs, as well as the majority of law-abiding citizens, who fail to satisfy the District of Columbia’s ‘good reason/proper reason’ requirement because they cannot ‘show a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community’ or that they are engaged in a ‘type of employment that requires the handling of cash or other valuable objects that may be transported upon [their] person,’ are unable excursive their fundamental right to bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment,” wrote Scullin.

Now, with good cause turned back on, gun rights advocates are due to meet in court with the city later this week to continue their fight.

“This temporary stay was not unexpected,” Alan Gottlieb, SAF’s executive vice president, told Guns.com Monday. “We are optimistic that the Appeals Court will lift it.”