Background checks in D.C. triple after city officials drop appeal of concealed carry ruling

Federal background checks tripled last month in the nation’s capitol after city officials said they wouldn’t appeal a circuit court ruling on its concealed carry law.

Some 217 Washington, D.C. residents submitted applications to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in October. More than two-thirds sought concealed handgun licenses, according to federal data, compared with just one permit application the month before. In October 2016 — the busiest year on record for NICS, and by proxy, gun sales — no one applied for a license.

The explosion of background checks follows city council’s Oct.5 decision to drop its appeal in the ongoing legal battle of Wrenn v. District of Columbia, fearing a loss at the Supreme Court could further loosen gun regulations across the country — just as the landmark decision in District of Columbia v. Heller did a decade ago.

A U.S. District Court of Appeals panel said earlier this month it would not reconsider the July 2-1 decision in Wrenn blocking enforcement of the city’s requirement that residents demonstrate “a good reason” for needing a concealed handgun permit. The ruling deemed parts of Washington’s permitting system — one of the toughest in the nation — unconstitutional. The Washington Post reports the city denied  77 percent of permit applications based on the “good reason” rule.

Despite the city’s decision to back down, D.C. residents seeking a permit still must complete 16 hours of safety training, two hours of range training and learn local gun regulations.

Based on the NICS data, however, it appears there’s no shortage of interest in obtaining a license under the new guidelines. Of the 301 permit checks completed so far this year, 48 percent were submitted last month. It’s the single biggest month for concealed handgun permits in the city’s history, according to federal data.