This week, under orders from a federal judge, the first concealed carry permits in the District of Columbia in 83 years were given out, and the numbers are underwhelming.
The handful of permits are an effort to appease a federal court order that mandated the nation’s capital strike down its long-standing ban on carrying guns outside the home. That case, Palmer v D.C., was decided last July by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin, who allowed the city until Oct. 22, 2014, before his judgment went into effect. The legislative response to Scullin’s order was a harsh “may-issue” set of regulations that are termed by many to be among the most restrictive concealed carry laws in the nation.
“We’ve had 69 applications, of which three were canceled at the request of the applicant,” Metropolitan Police Department representative Gwendolyn Crump told the Washington Free Beacon. “So far eight licenses have been approved and issued.”
When contrasted against the 646,449 population estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, this figure is one lawfully licensed carrier for every 80,000 residents. Nonetheless, it is the first carry outside the home authorized under the District’s laws since 1932.
What is perhaps more telling is the figure of rejected applicants, 11 so far, which surpasses even the small number of permits issued. This may be due to the strict requirements that have been termed by some gun rights advocates as giving the District a “no issue” policy.
These include background and fingerprint tests, a firearms safety course followed by an exam, as well as a vision certification. Candidates have to be interviewed and attend a mandated 16-hour training course administered by one of six firearms instructors currently certified by the Metro Police chief.
That same chief, currently Cathy Lanier, has discretion over who are issued a concealed carry permit. While “self-defense” or residing in a high-crime area may not be considered sufficient reason for issuing a permit, such events like carrying large sums of cash, documented death threats or protective orders can be taken into account.
Overall, applicants have to supply evidence, “showing of a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.”
Applicants who are denied can appeal to a five-member Concealed Handgun Licensing Review Board for reconsideration.
Even though D.C. was the last jurisdiction in the continental U.S. that had no provision for concealed carry, gun rights advocates are far from pleased with the meager results so far.
“The fact that Washington, D.C., has now issued a handful of permits does not put them in compliance with the federal court order,” Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb said in a statement. “For all practical purposes it amounts to almost zero percent of the population.”
It was a legal team provided in conjunction with the SAF and lead by noted attorney Alan Gura who won the judgment in the Palmer case after a five-year legal battle.
“As far as we are concerned they are in contempt of court,” Gottlieb said, stating that the SAF is also standing by to bring cases against the District on behalf of those denied permits.