Washington, D.C. has long had an aversion to its residents possessing firearms, despite recent Supreme Court decisions re-enforcing an individual’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for personal defense.
The District of Columbia law regarding the issuing of a concealed carry permit state that D.C. “may issue” a permit rather than “shall issue,” the difference being that D.C. requires an individual to present a good reason as to why they should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. That makes the decision arbitrary, effectively limiting the number of permits issued. Whereas if it were “shall issue,” D.C. would be forced to issue permits to those persons who could legally possess a firearm.
Like D.C., New Jersey has a “may issue” permitting scheme.
This past July, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down D.C.’s “may-issue” provision in a 2-1 decision as being unconstitutional, blocking the District’s strict concealed carry permitting system. D.C. filed a petition for rehearing before all eleven D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals judges to review the three-judge panel’s decision and vacate its July decision. Law abiding gun owners across the country waited to see if the full appeals court would rehear the matter.
On September 28, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petition for a hearing by a unanimous vote, therefore allowing the striking down of D.C.’s gun control laws to stand.
So how does that help the residents of New Jersey?
Now that the D.C circuit is aligned with the 7th circuit in support of an individual’s Second Amendment rights, and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 9th circuits have made decisions to the contrary, the Supreme Court will most likely have to eventually address the Second Amendment and resolve the split among the jurisdictions. That is something the Supreme Court has largely avoided since 2010.
However, Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced on October 5th that it was not appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, expressing concern that the risk of an adverse ruling would jeopardize similar concealed-carry restrictions in other states.
With a favorable Supreme Court in place, a majority of the Justices could re-enforce the rights conferred by the Second Amendment in previous Supreme Court decisions and strike down once and for all the “may issue” scheme as being unconstitutional.
If so, then New Jersey’s gun permitting process may have to change, making it easier for law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right to possess and carry firearms in the Garden State.
But for now, we’ll have to wait for another case to be appealed.