Judge Strikes Down D.C. Anti-Gun Law

| by Nik Bonopartis
A pink Sig Sauer in .22 caliberA pink Sig Sauer in .22 caliber

Washington, D.C., officials are placing an unconstitutional burden on gun owners.

The city's new gun law places arbitrary restrictions on gun owners. Even if a gun owner passes a background check and completes the required training, the law allows city officials to deny public carry permits unless the applicants can provide a "good reason" for why they need to carry a gun.

Applicants have to prove there are real, documented threats against their lives before they're allowed to carry.

But on May 17, District Judge Richard Leon struck down the restrictive issue part of the city's gun law, saying it's "likely unconstitutional," according to the Washington Free Beacon.

"Because the right to bear arms includes the right to carry firearms for self-defense both in and outside the home, I find that the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement likely places an unconstitutional burden on this right," Leon wrote in his decision, says the Free Beacon.

One of the groups challenging the case is Pink Pistols, which is an LGBTQ group that supports the rights of sexual minorities to arm themselves for self-defense. The group joined a lawsuit filed by Matthew Grace, a D.C. resident who was denied a gun carry permit because city officials said he didn't meet the threat criteria.

“This is not a want,” Gwendolyn S. Patton, head of Pink Pistols International, told the Free Beacon. “This is a need. This is a right that we have and we are going to exercise it. We wish to exercise it legally and therefore we’re going to challenge this idea that you have a right to tell us what is a sufficient cause for us to carry a gun.”

Leon granted a preliminary injunction, which prevents Washington, D.C. officials from enforcing the restrictive issue segment of the city's gun law. As the Associated Press notes, that ruling is at odds with an earlier ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who denied the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, reasoning that their lawsuit was unlikely to succeed.

Leon was nominated to the federal court by former President George W. Bush, while Kollar-Kotelly was a former President Bill Clinton nominee, says the AP.

The city, which has more than 600,000 residents, had only issued 62 gun permits as of March 9, according to the Free Beacon.

In a 2014 profile of the Pink Pistols, VICE recounted the story of Tom Palmer, a gay libertarian who was headed to dinner with a co-worker in 1982 when a gang of homophobes threatened to kill him. Palmer tried walking away, then running, but the gang followed him until he pulled a handgun on them.

Stories like Palmer's inspired the group's unofficial motto, "Armed gays don't get bashed," according to the story. Marcel Fontaine, a gay gun-rights advocate, told VICE that gun carry permits can help sexual minorities feel safe in public, and save their lives. Citing the FBI's Uniform Crime Index, the story notes that there are about 1,600 documented hate crimes against LGTBQ victims annually.

"If you want to harm someone because they're an LGBT person," Fontaine said, "they can defend themselves against that by open carrying."

Sources: Associated Press via TIME, Washington Free Beacon, VICE / Photo credit:

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