Legislators in Washington, D.C., have just introduced rules that would allow some citizens of the District to carry concealed firearms outside the home. The proposal would restrict carrying from schools, public transportation and require permit holders to stay 1,000 feet away from any government dignitary or protest.
The new rules, which will be voted on by the full City Council Sept. 23, amount to a “may issue” process, giving discretion to the chief of police to determine whether an applicant has a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person” and wants to carry a firearm outside the home for protection.
“I happen to be one who does not support people walking around with guns — concealed or otherwise,” said D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, a longtime opponent of gun rights in the District, during a Sept. 17 press conference outlining the plan.
“It is my opinion that the District needs less guns, not more guns," Gray added.
The new carry regulations come just months after a federal judge ruled the D.C. ban on carrying any weapon outside the home was unconstitutional. The city vowed to appeal, but in a sign its argument wouldn’t stand up to judicial scrutiny, officials decided to issue a tough permitting process.
The District was the last city in the nation to totally ban carrying firearms outside the home.
District officials say they modeled their concealed carry permit process after similar ones in New York, New Jersey and Maryland, which requires applicants to demonstrate they have been threatened with death or assaulted before a carry permit will be considered.
“We cannot eliminate guns,” said D.C. council chairman Phil Mendelson, who has played a key role in drafting the city’s gun laws. “We can eliminate the risk that the person will misuse the gun.”
The rules would allow D.C. residents with a permitted firearm to apply for a carry permit, as well as non-residents who have a state concealed carry permit. Open carry will not be allowed.
An attorney who represented gun owners in overturning the city’s carry ban vowed to fight the draconian rules set by legislators, saying personal defense is a right protected by the Constitution.
“In America, the police don’t determine what rights we have good reason to enjoy,” pro-gun rights attorney Alan Gura told the Associated Press. “You don’t need a good reason to speak, to worship, to vote or to carry a gun for self-defense.”