Jun 30, 2022 - News

Experts say SCOTUS ruling on NY gun law is unlikely to affect D.C.

A handgun
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Last week’s SCOTUS ruling striking down New York’s restrictions on carrying guns has left District residents scratching their heads about whether the city’s gun laws are affected, and whether the decision means more people could soon be allowed to carry weapons in D.C.

Why it matters: D.C. has long had strict laws around individuals’ rights to own and carry a gun, mandating that all firearms owners go through an exhaustive process of registering guns with the police department.

  • The Metropolitan Police Department told Axios to file a public records request in response to questions about how many guns are registered in the city and the number of people registered to carry.

Until 2017, the District had a “good reason” requirement for concealed carry. A person had to show a special need for carrying a gun that was atypical of the average Joe.

  • That law was put on ice when the U.S. Court of Appeals struck it down in Wrenn v. District of Columbia.
  • And for that reason, public officials and legal experts Axios talked with don’t believe the Supreme Court’s decision will impact the District, which already does not enforce the “good reason” rule.

Catch up quick: The Supreme Court last Thursday ruled 6-3 against a New York law that requires people applying to get concealed carry licenses to show that they have "proper cause,” Axios' Oriana Gonzalez wrote.

  • The majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, says that it is a constitutional right to carry a weapon in public for self-defense purposes.
  • The ruling will have major implications for gun control laws across the country as the U.S. also struggles with an epidemic of gun violence.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said shortly after the ruling that his office was “reviewing the decision and will continue to do everything possible to keep D.C. residents safe.”

  • Racine’s office declined to give additional comment amid its ongoing review.

D.C. Council chair Phil Mendelson on Monday criticized the ruling but said it “does not affect us.”

Esther Sanchez-Gomez, an attorney with the anti-gun violence Giffords Law Center, concurs with that viewpoint, given the 2017 ruling that already made the District’s “good reason” rule moot.

Zoom in: There are other gun restrictions still in effect here. For example, the District does not allow open carry of firearms. It restricts where concealed firearms can be taken, including at childcare centers and schools, a city government building, anywhere alcohol is served, and more.

Zoom out: In Maryland, lawmakers may need to tweak the state’s “good reason” law, which allows for a concealed weapon in cases where gun owners prove they are in danger or have a high-security clearance, the Washington Post reported.

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