Guns and Gear

A Botched Federal Ruling Completely Screwed Up DC’s Gun Laws

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Font Size:

A federal court turned the District of Columbia’s concealed carry law on its head Tuesday after it disqualified a judge who earlier this year ruled the law unconstitutional.

A panel of three judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals found unanimously that Federal Judge Frederick Scullin went beyond the bounds of his duty as a visiting judge in D.C. when he ruled in favor of a resident who wanted to carry a handgun outside his home.

“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,” the judges wrote in their decision.

Scullin is a judge for the Northern District of New York. According to the judges, that disqualifies him from ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. While it is possible for a judge to make a ruling in a court outside his judicial authority in some cases, this is not one of those cases.

Judge David B. Sentelle wrote that Scullin wasn’t specifically assigned the case, but he was assigned an earlier concealed carry-related case. While Scullin had authority in that case, he did not have express authority to rule in follow-up cases.

“We realize that we are undoing the work of litigation to date, but we have no choice,” the judges wrote.

The case will now go to a new judge so that legal challenges will be allowed to continue. It won’t affect the city’s gun laws immediately, though, because Scullin’s ruling was already halted by the appeals court.

Prior to the Scullin ruling, it was illegal for residents to carry guns in public. Scullin ruled that law unconstitutional.

In response to the ruling, D.C. council passed a slightly less restrictive concealed carry law that requires any D.C. resident seeking to carry a gun to prove “good reason to fear injury to his or her person” in order to obtain a permit. In May, a federal judge ruled that law unconstitutional as well. (VIDEO: DC’s Police Chief Accidentally Details What’s Wrong With Gun Laws)

Scullin blocked the law after gun rights advocates brought a lawsuit against the city claiming the law makes it almost impossible for residents to obtain the permit to carry a gun. They say the law sometimes takes months to complete.

“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,” Scullin wrote.

Read the full ruling here:

Follow Josh on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.