As I predicted last month, the District of Columbia is appealing their loss in the case of Wrenn v. D.C. where the appeals court rejected the District’s latest attempt to prevent pretty much anyone from getting a permit for a handgun in Washington. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action also saw this coming and they provide the details in an update this week.
In an unsurprising turn, officials in the District of Columbia have decided to continue to defend their near total ban on the right to bear arms. On Thursday, D.C. filed a petition for rehearing en banc with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the combined cases of Grace v. D.C. and Wrenn v. D.C.
As we reported last month, the D.C. Circuit struck down the District’s restrictive handgun permitting law that required applicants to show a “good” or “proper” reason for needing to carry a concealed handgun. Under this system, D.C. officials have denied all but a few applicants their right to carry a firearm for personal protection.
The District’s 61 pages of arguments for why the right to bear arms shouldn’t apply in the nation’s capital can be summed up in a single reason: “we’re different.”
As appeals go, this one sounds rather ill founded, but since we’re talking about a Second Amendment question all bets are off these days. Still, the “we’re just different” argument should be laughed out of almost any court in the land. The District is claiming that it is “unique and [u]nlike any city, it is filled with thousands of high-ranking federal officials and international diplomats, and it hosts hundreds of heavily attended events each year, including political marches and protests.” Presumably, this translates to saying that their “unique” status means that the constitutional rights of their residents can be tossed as a matter of convenience.
Have the District’s lawyers ever left town and checked out some other cities? I’ll grant you that the concentration of international diplomats per square mile is likely higher in DC, but every major city is flush with elected officials of their own. And as far as “heavily attended events” including marches and protests go, show me a city that doesn’t have all that chaos taking place these days and I might consider moving there. But even if their argument held some sort of water, since when is population density a deciding factor in whether or not you can have your constitutional rights stripped away?
The appeal of Wrenn seems, at least at first glance, to be an easy win, whether it concludes with the en banc hearing at the district level or they make it to the Supreme Court. But I’m not betting the ranch on it at all. Keep in mind that SCOTUS will be balancing this one against their inaction in Peruta v. California. When I wrote about it at the time I described it as a definite blow to the Second Amendment and it was also a “good cause” law at the heart of it. If the Supreme Court could allow Peruta to stand, then all bets are off in these two cases. Eventually they may be forced to give a broader ruling either supporting or undermining Heller, but thus far the justices have shown little stomach to tackle this question.