Official Statement On Decision Not To Appeal Wrenn Case

As reported earlier today, Karl Racine, District of Columbia Attorney General, has decided not to appeal the Court of Appeals decision in Wrenn v. DC. His official statement is below:

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Below is a statement from Attorney General Karl A. Racine regarding his decision, in consultation with other District leaders, not to petition the Supreme Court of the United States for a writ of certiorari to review the decision in Wrenn v. District of Columbia and Grace v. District of Columbia by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit:

“Public safety is, and has always been, my paramount concern. 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.

“In consultation with Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Allen and multiple stakeholders, and after careful consideration, we reached consensus that abiding by the D.C. Circuit’s ruling was the wisest course of action to protect public safety in the District and nationwide. Therefore, I have decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court.”

A loss in the Supreme Court could affect similar gun regulations in other jurisdictions – including in nearby states like Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The proliferation of guns in those places can have spillover effects for the safety of District residents.

While the good-reason requirement will sunset upon the D.C. Circuit’s issuance of its mandate effectuating its ruling, the rest of the District’s reasonable regulations on who may obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm and the circumstances in which one may carry in public remain in place.

The Office of Attorney General has issued a FAQ regarding eligibility for obtaining a DC concealed carry permit. They are still going to make it as hard as possible to obtain but if you have a clean record and no mental health issues then you should qualify.

DC Won’t Appeal In Wrenn Case

It is being reported by District of Columbia new station WTOP that the Attorney General of DC has decided not to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision in Wrenn v. DC. The decision overturned the District’s “good reason” requirement to obtain a carry permit. The last time the District of Columbia lost in a major Second Amendment case they appealed. That case was DC v. Heller.

From WTOP:

After days of consulting with the mayor’s office and city council members, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has reportedly decided not to fight a ruling that effectively strikes down the District’s strict law that makes it difficult for gun owners to get concealed carry permits.

Sources told WTOP’s broadcast news partner NBC Washington that Racine made the decision not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and will formally make an announcement later on Thursday.

This cements the win for carry in DC. Conversely, an appeal to the Supreme Court might have provided the opportunity to overturn negative decisions on carry such Peruta in the 9th Circuit and Kalchalsky in the 2nd Circuit. Whether or not the Supreme Court will ever take up a carry case still remains to be seen.

H/T Sebastian

A Great Win To Kick Off GRPC 2017

The 2017 Gun Rights Policy Conference starts this evening in Irving, Texas. For those that don’t know, it is sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. And what could be a better way to start this conference than a win in the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the Wrenn case.

The Court of Appeals has refused to hold an en banc review of Wrenn v. DC which is a win for gun rights in the District of Columbia. The Wrenn case invalidated the District’s requirement that a citizen show “good reason” in order to obtain a carry permit. The question is now whether the District of Columbia will appeal this to the United States Supreme Court. The last time they appealed such a loss in a gun rights case was in DC v. Heller and we know how that turned out for them.

From SAF on their win in DC:

BELLEVUE, WA — The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has turned down a request from the city for an en banc hearing on the concealed carry case of Wrenn v. District of Columbia, amounting to a strategic win for the Second Amendment Foundation.

According to the court, not a single judge on the court requested a hearing. Earlier, a three-judge panel had ruled in favor of plaintiffs Brian Wrenn and SAF. The case challenges the District’s carry permit policy that requires citizens to provide a “good reason” to be issued a permit. The Appeals Court struck down that requirement.

“Ten years ago, Washington D.C.’s political leadership tried to extinguish Second Amendment rights before the Supreme Court,” noted attorney Alan Gura, who represents the plaintiffs. “The result was D.C. v. Heller, a tremendous victory for the rights of all Americans. With the court of appeals again confirming the people’s right to bear arms, Washington, D.C.’s politicians must once again ask themselves whether it makes sense to keep resisting our fundamental rights.”

Gura successfully argued both the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case and 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Both cases dealt directly with Second Amendment issues. Heller affirmed that the amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and McDonald incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14thAmendment.

SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb was delighted with the court’s decision not to grant the en banc hearing.

“We are grateful,” Gottlieb observed, “that the court has shown considerable wisdom, and this should help advance the effort to assure reasonable concealed carry for District residents. It represents one more advancement in our effort to win firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.”

The victory comes on the eve of the 32nd annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Dallas, Texas. The event is co-sponsored by SAF and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

DC Asks For En Banc Hearing In Wrenn Case

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, we draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of gun violence, and we say gun control now, gun control tomorrow, gun control forever.

The quote above is actually a paraphrase of a line in the 1963 inaugural address of the late Alabama Gov. George Corley Wallace (D-AL). Wallace was talking about the segregation of the races. The absolutism shown by the District of Columbia on the matter of the right to keep and bear arms is strikingly similar to that of Wallace on race. However, unlike Wallace who publicly recanted his racist and segregationist positions, the District of Columbia Council shows no such inclination towards the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, it was no surprise that DC filed for an en banc hearing of the Wrenn decision which invalidated their “good reason” requirement for a carry permit.

The brief filed yesterday requesting an en banc rehearing attacks the majority decision on two fronts. First, they argue that they are a special place that is entirely urban and that contains many sensitive places like foreign embassies. They argue that the majority ignored the special needs of such a locale and then contend that their “good reason” may-issue carry law helps reduce crime and save lives. They cite a pantheon of anti-Second Amendment academics ranging from Saul Cornell to John Donohue as their evidence for this contention. They especially rely on the latter and ignore the criticism of his work due to “synthetic statistics”.

The second front of their attack on the majority decision is to say that it ignored historical precedent and the two-step process established in Heller I.

Rather than follow this well-worn path, the panel majority failed to conduct its own historical analysis at the first step, instead drawing assumptions from
Heller I’s historical analysis. Op. 14-17. And then the panel majority did not even proceed to the second step of the Second Amendment inquiry, mistakenly finding the District’s law categorically unconstitutional. Op. 25-29. These missteps departed from established precedent and warrant en banc review.

In this second front they also point out binding precedents in other circuits such as Kachalsky in the 2nd and Peruta in the 9th which ruled against shall-issue carry in the former or any carry in the latter. As to the 7th Circuit and the twin cases of Moore v. Madigan and Shepard v. Madigan which did find a right to carry outside the home, they cherry-picked from that decision.

They conclude:

Even if Heller I’s historical analysis did imply something about the scope of public carry in general, it did not hold anything about whether the pre-existing
right codified in the Second Amendment included a right to publicly carry firearms on crowded city streets in the nation’s capital with no particularized self-defense reason―let alone do so clearly enough to warrant the entry of judgment on appeal from a preliminary-injunction ruling. This Court should grant en banc review to correct the error and consider the District’s law using the appropriate analysis dictated by
Heller I, II, and III.

It is a toss-up to whether they will be granted the rehearing and also a toss-up on what the full panel of judges on the DC Circuit might decide. Given former President Obama’s stacking of the DC Circuit, we could very well see a decision like that of the 9th Circuit in Peruta where a win was nullified.

The Second Amendment Foundation, which is an organization plaintiff in the case, released a statement yesterday regarding the petition for an en banc rehearing. Quoting Alan Gottlieb, it said, in part:

“The Second Amendment Foundation expected the City of Washington, DC to file this appeal in an attempt to try to overturn our court victory that said their virtual ban on the right to carry a firearm for self-protection was unconstitutional,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

SAF has been battling the city over this issue for some time. The city has strenuously resisted these legal efforts, arguing in its latest petition that the city is “unique” because of its dense population that includes “thousands of high-ranking federal officials and international diplomats.” But earlier this summer, the District Court of Appeals majority opinion is that the “good reason” restriction violates the Second Amendment rights of citizens living in the district.

“They have no intention of complying with any court decision that supports the right to keep and bear arms,” Gottlieb said. “It took the Heller decision to force them to allow a gun in your own home for self-defense. It took the Palmer decision, another SAF case, to force them to repeal their total ban on carry and now they are kicking and screaming about losing the Wrenn decision.”

Gottlieb maintains that even if the District is “unique,” the citizens living there still retain their right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. The city’s “good reason” requirement makes it far too easy to deny all but a few people their rights on the flimsy grounds that average citizens never have a good enough reason. The court recognized this problem and ruled against the District’s requirement, he noted.

“Municipal stubbornness cannot be allowed to outweigh the constitution,” Gottlieb said. “A civil right should not be subject to bureaucratic neurosis.”

I like that last line – a civil right should not be subject to bureaucratic neurosis.

US Appeals Court Tosses Out DC Concealed Carry Ruling On Procedural Grounds

In a decision today, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia invalidated the ruling in Wrenn v. DC.  Sr. US District Court Judge Frederick Scullin, Jr. had issued a preliminary injunction against the new “may-issue” carry law adopted by the District. That ruling had been stayed while the Court of Appeals considered DC’s appeal of the injunction.

Senior Circuit Judge David Sentelle writing for the Court of Appeals said that the case must be overturned on jurisdictional grounds and that they Court was not ruling on the merits of the case. He said based upon a 1937 Supreme Court ruling in Frad v. Kelly that a ruling where the judge did not have jurisdiction was null.

The controlling fact in this case is the identity of the
judge who decided it in the district court – The Honorable
Senior United States District Judge Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., of
the Northern District of New York. The difficulty in this case
is evident from the office of the deciding judge. Judge Scullin
is a Judge of the Northern District of New York, not of the
United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
the Constitution and the statutes, the President, with the advice
and consent of the Senate, appoints a judge to the district court
of a particular district, where he exercises the jurisdiction of the

It is possible for a district judge, including a senior judge,
to lawfully adjudicate matters in another district. However, in
order for a judge to exercise this judicial authority in a district
located outside the circuit of his home district, the judge must be
“designated and assigned by the Chief Justice.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 294(c)-(d). See also 28 U.S.C. § 294(e) (“No retired [i.e.,
senior] . . . judge shall perform judicial duties except when
designated and assigned.”).

Before the visiting judge may be designated and assigned
by the Chief Justice, the chief judge of the receiving district
must “present[] . . . a certificate of necessity.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 294(d). Then, and only then, may the Chief Justice of the
United States “designate[] and assign[]” the judge duties in the
receiving district. Id. Although Judge Scullin had served under
a properly issued designation, the difficulty in the present case
is that designation was limited to specific and enumerated cases.
The present litigation is not one of those cases.

The error in this case is quite understandable. The calendar
committee of the district court assigned the matter to Judge
Scullin because it deemed the case to be related to another case
over which Judge Scullin presided. The difficulty is, while the
earlier case was within the Chief Justice’s designation, the
present one is not.

What this means in practical terms is that the Wrenn case must start over from scratch. A new judge must be appointed for the case and briefs submitted. If there is a good thing coming out of the Court of Appeals ruling, it is that no precedent involving the substance of the case was established.

District Of Columbia Doesn’t Get Its Stay

This afternoon Judge Frederick Scullin denied the District of Columbia’s request for an immediate administrative stay in Wrenn et al v. District of Columbia et al.

Having reviewed the parties’ submissions and the applicable law, the Court hereby

ORDERS that Defendants’ motion for an immediate administrative stay is DENIED; and
the Court further

ORDERS that Plaintiffs shall file their papers in opposition to Defendants’ motion for a stay
pending appeal on or before June 22, 2015; and the Court further

ORDERS that Defendants shall file any papers in further support of their motion for a stay
pending appeal on or before June 26, 2015; and the Court further

ORDERS that counsel shall appear for oral argument in support of, and in opposition to,
Defendants’ motion for a stay pending appeal on July 7, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.


The Second Amendment Foundation is rightly taking this as a win for them. While they didn’t get the contempt citation that they sought, they were successful in opposition to DC’s request for an immediate administrative stay. DC, as Alan Gura noted, had drug its heels for a week before they requested the stay.

Punching Back Twice As Hard

Since Judge Frederick Scullin issued his preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia last Monday, the District has been dragging its feet on issuing new carry permits. Indeed they now say they will review the court’s order for the next 90 days. This not only contravenes the court’s order but violates their own law saying that they have 90 days to issue a permit.

Lawrence Powers is an approved firearms instructor for the District of Columbia. Without the now enjoined “good cause/proper cause” critiera, there is no reason that he, of all people, is not issued a permit. He has already met all the background and training requirements to be approved as an instructor.

Fed up with the District’s foot dragging, Alan Gura has filed a Motion to Hold Defendants in Contempt yesterday. After outlining the negotiations on compliance with the injunction and how the District has plainly ignored the court order, he writes:

11. The games continue. Defendants supposedly not understanding the Court’s order,
they will ignore it. Of course, Defendants understand the order perfectly well. They simply dislike it.
On May 26, 2015, counsel met and conferred regarding this motion. Defendants’ attorney declined to
state what is ambiguous about the Court’s May 18 order, and offered only that “soon” there would be
a filing discussing the matter.

12. If Defendants want a 90 day stay of the Court’s injunction, they need to ask for one.
There are requirements and standards—in other words, there is actual law that governs that process.
For parties in this Court, let alone government officials, to unilaterally declare a 90 day “court ignoring”
period upon issuance of a preliminary injunction is simply unacceptable.

Defendants are and should be held in contempt.

 Sometime after Mr. Gura filed his Motion, the District filed a motion asking for an immediate administrative stay while they study their alternatives for an appeal. It seems that this move was anticipated because a Memorandum in Opposition was filed shortly thereafter. Mr. Gura says the District has “already granted themselves a stay” and calls their arguments “disingenuous.” He goes on to say that if they really thought they faced irreparable harm, then they would have requested a stay immediately and not waited a week. As to the harm they face, he says, “Of course the District faces no harm from having to join the vast majority of
the country in respecting Second Amendment rights.”

It will be interesting to see what Judge Scullin does.

The Second Amendment Foundation is the organizational plaintiff in this case. This afternoon they issued a press release on the matter. Alan Gottlieb called their attempts to stall “unconscionable” and an example of “municipal arrogance.”

Another Win For Carry In DC (Updated)

US District Court Judge Frederick Scullin granted a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs who had challenged the District of Columbia’s “good reason”/”proper reason” requirement for obtaining a carry permit. The case, Wrenn et al v. District of Columbia et al, was a follow-on case to Palmer v. District of Columbia and was filed after the DC City Council adopted their new carry regulations.

The court found that the plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation stood a good chance of winning a permanent injunction based upon the merits of their argument. Under legal precedent, a preliminary injunction is only granted if that can be shown.

Examining the existing DC law using intermediate scrutiny standard as established in the DC Circuit by Heller II, Judge Scullin found:

The District of Columbia’s arbitrary “good
reason”/”proper reason” requirement, however, goes far beyond establishing such reasonable
restrictions. Rather, for all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the
overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for
self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment Foundation was very pleased with Judge Scullin’s order. In their release below, they call it a “devastating loss” for DC and its gun control policies. The release points out more about the decision as well.

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today won a preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s enforcement of a requirement to provide a “good reason” when applying for a concealed carry permit.

Judge Frederick J. Scullin ordered that the city is “enjoined from denying handgun carry licenses to applicants who meet the requirements of D.C. Code 22-4506(a) and all other current requirements for the possession and carrying of handguns under District of Columbia law.”

Judge Scullin further wrote in his 23-page opinion that the District’s “good reason/proper reason” requirement “has far more than a ‘de minimis’ effect on [their] rights it completely bars the right from being exercised, at all times and places and in any manner, without exception” and that the requirement “impinges on Plaintiff’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.’

“This is a devastating loss for the District and its anti-gun-rights policy,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We’re delighted with the judge’s ruling, because once again, the court has thwarted the District’s blatantly obvious effort to discourage the exercise of Second Amendment rights by forcing permit applicants to jump through a series of hoops and then frustrate them by requiring an arbitrary ‘good reason’ for the exercise of a constitutionally-protected civil right.”

Gottlieb said that the court ruling essentially says the “good reason” requirement does not pass the smell test.

“It stinks, and always did stink, and now everybody knows it,” Gottlieb said.

The order also says that attorneys for both sides shall appear for a conference with the court on July 7, to “discuss an expedited schedule for the resolution of this case.”

“You can’t ask for more than that,” Gottlieb said. He noted that this is the second time in a row the District has lost on a carry issue in a case involving SAF.

“This is getting to be rather tiring,” he said. “To quote the renowned American folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, ‘when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?’”

UPDATE: The Firearms Policy Coalition did a good breakdown on the decision. It can be found here.

Also see this from Brian Doherty at Reason.

It also made the Washington Post. Spencer Hsu took great pains to point out that Judge Scullin’s rulling differed from precedent set in the 3rd and 4th Circuits.

Scullin’s ruling runs counter to decisions by federal judges upholding similar “may-issue” discretionary laws in Maryland and New Jersey, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in March set aside a three-judge panel’s ruling relied upon by Scullin, and the full court will rehear arguments next month.

While that is very true, Judge Scullin is bound by precedents set in the Circuit for the District of Columbia. He pointed to Heller II as being instructive as to the level of scrutiny (intermediate). He also acknowledged the precedents set in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Circuits were “uninstructive” and that those courts either accorded too much deference to the legislature or did not address whether the law or regulation was “no broader than necessary to achieve the government’s substantial objectives.”

The full opinion can be found here.

DC Sued Again Over Concealed Carry

The District of Columbia was sued today by the Second Amendment Foundation on behalf of two DC residents and one Florida resident who resides in Virginia. The suit challenges DC’s “good reason” requirement to be issued a concealed carry permit. Currently, only eight permits have been issued out of 69 applications.

Attorney Alan Gura is representing the plaintiffs in the suit entitled Wrenn et al v. District of Columbia

From SAF’s release:

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today filed a federal lawsuit challenging the District of Columbia’s highly restrictive concealed carry permit requirement that applicants provide a “good reason” before such a permit is issued, which violates the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. SAF is joined by three private citizens, Brian Wrenn and Joshua Akery, both of Washington, D.C., and Tyler Whidby, a Florida resident who also maintains a residence in Virginia. The city and Police Chief Cathy Lanier are named as defendants.

The lawsuit asserts that “individuals cannot be required to prove a ‘good reason’ or ‘other proper reason’ for the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.” All three individual plaintiffs in the case have applied for District carry permits and have been turned down by Lanier because they could not “Demonstrate a good reason to fear injury to person or property.”

“The city’s requirements to obtain a carry permit are so restrictive in nature as to be prohibitive to virtually all applicants,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “It’s rather like a ‘Catch 22,’ in which you can apply all day long, but no reason is sufficiently good enough for Chief Lanier to issue a permit.

“Because of that,” he added, “the city has set the bar so high that it relegates a fundamental civil right to the status of a heavily-regulated government privilege. That is not only wrong, it also does not live up to previous court rulings. Law-abiding citizens who clear background checks and are allowed to have handguns in their homes are being unnecessarily burdened with the additional requirement of proving some special need.

“The last time we checked,” Gottlieb concluded, “we had a Bill of Rights that applied to the entire nation, including the District. It’s not, and never has been, a ‘Bill of Needs’.”

The city is still appealing its earlier loss in Palmer v. D.C., the SAF-sponsored case that struck down the city’s total ban on carrying handguns. The courts have not yet ruled on SAF’s claim that the city’s “may issue” law violates the Palmer injunction.

“We will give the courts every chance to bring Washington, D.C. into constitutional compliance,” said attorney Alan Gura, who represents SAF and the other plaintiffs in both cases.

The complaint can be found here.