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D.C. Council Passes Concealed Carry Bill that Nobody Wants

Friday, September 26, 2014

On Tuesday, the D.C. City Council unanimously passed an emergency bill that created a highly-restrictive “may-issue” concealed carry licensing system in the District.  The law will be in effect for only 90 days, presumably to give the council more time to develop a permanent law and to wait for further developments in the case that overruled the District’s total ban on carrying a firearm in public for self-defense.

As we previously reported, the legislation itself seems to be an attempt to maintain the status quo of effectively prohibiting the carrying of firearms while the District continues to litigate the Palmer case.  In fact, the council already tried unsuccessfully to maintain the current law while it appeals the ruling, but the court denied the District’s motion for an indefinite stay pending appeal.  With the initial 90-day stay set to expire on October 22, the council reluctantly passed its bill, but no one should be fooled that the council made any legitimate attempt to recognize the right recognized by the court.

Despite the unanimity of the council’s vote, neither the plaintiffs in the case nor the council are happy about passage of the bill.  Councilmember David Grosso made his feelings on the bill very clear at the meeting.  Despite voting for it, Grosso said, “We’d like to have much stricter no carry rules at all … preferably no guns at all.”  Grosso went on to lament that courts have forced the council into this “difficult situation,” ignoring the fact that the council repealed D.C.’s prior law for the issuance of carry licenses after Heller. As in Heller itself, the comprehensive ban on carrying that resulted was such an outlier that it effectively forced the court’s hand. That lesson, however, appears to be lost on Grosso and his colleagues. 

While the council was unanimous in passing the bill, they were divided on a provision that would have made the names of all concealed carry license holders available to the public.  Some on the council appeared to favor this measure mainly to punish anyone who actually does get a license or to dissuade others from even applying for one. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his other remarks, councilmember Grosso was in favor of making the names of licensees public. “We should at least give our neighbors and residents a chance to know who has the gun, put it up there …” he said, “we’ll all know who it is and we can treat them differently ….” 

Grosso’s advocacy of discriminating against follow D.C. residents for exercising their rights was insulting enough. Yet Councilmember Yvette Alexander would not be upstaged in her utter disregard of the safety implications of advertising gun ownership to potential robbers and thieves. “Who cares about the confidentiality of a gun owner,” she huffed, “we don’t want it.” 

That desire to disarm the people, while dismissing their well-being, is of course exactly why the Second Amendment exists in the first place. As ever, the District of Columbia continues to illustrate the genius and foresight of the Founding Fathers who enacted it.

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