Back in July we talked about the District of Columbia court loss on their handgun ban in Wrenn v D.C. That was the case which brought to light the District’s version of a “good cause” law, claiming that citizens should be forced to show “good cause” as to why they wanted a permit. Having tanked there, that seemed to be the end of the story until their inevitable (or so I thought) appeal to the Supreme Court.

Turns out it wasn’t so inevitable after all. They’re not going to appeal, which might make you wonder why such a non-event merits further discussion. But it does, primarily because of the reason they chose not to appeal. (Free Beacon)

The attorney general of Washington, D.C., announced on Thursday that the city would not appeal to the Supreme Court a federal appeals court decision striking down a provision in its strict gun-carry law.

“Public safety is, and has always been, my paramount concern,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “I continue to believe the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement is a common-sense, and constitutional, gun regulation. However, we must reckon with the fact that an adverse decision by the Supreme Court could have wide-ranging negative effects not just on District residents, but on the country as a whole.”

Racine said he made the decision after consulting with elected officials in the city.

There’s no question that D.C. doesn’t want to begin just issuing permits for gun ownership willy-nilly to any old citizen who thinks the Second Amendment entitles them to that right. (And they may not even now. Despite being ordered to by the courts there are still only a handful of permits in the district.) So why not fight it all the way to the top?

The D.C. Attorney General and the Mayor have clearly been discussing the long game here rather than their own immediate desires. It doesn’t require any stretch of the imagination to read into what Racine meant when he said that a loss in the Supreme Court could have, “wide-ranging negative effects not just on District residents, but on the country as a whole.” At the moment, the “good cause” question is up in the air and they don’t want to be the ones to send the concept crashing into the constitutional dust bin across the land.

It all comes down to a couple of other cases which are hanging around out there. The biggest is obviously Peruta v. California which was allowed to stand when the Supremes failed to take up the appeal. California had also put forward a “good cause” law and it was upheld by the 9th Circuit. With the SCOTUS refusing to hear it, that means that it still stands as precedent. But if they took up Wrenn and lost, that would pretty much wipe out Peruta and any other states attempting a similar maneuver in the process.

We’re obviously going to need another test case to run up the flagpole if there’s any hope of clearing this up once and for all. Assuming that happens, I hope that the justices consider the following question. Which of these sentences makes more sense to you?

  • You need to show the court a good reason why you should be able to exercise your constitutional rights.
  • The court needs to show you why you shouldn’t be able to exercise your constitutional rights.

Just something to think about.