People who want to carry a gun on the streets of the nation's capital no longer need to show a "good reason" to obtain a concealed-weapons permit after a court order took effect Friday morning.
The order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia took effect shortly after 8 a.m. — less than 24 hours after D.C. officials announced they would not ask the Supreme Court to review the decision in Wrenn v. District of Columbia.
In some ways the application requirements for obtaining a concealed-weapons permit in Washington are still rigorous. Applicants must go through a criminal-background check and demonstrate that they have gone through firearms training.
But the appeals court struck down the most restrictive portion of the District's concealed-carry law, which required that permit-seekers have a "good reason," such as a credible fear of violence, to carry a gun in public.
That standard has proved extremely effective in limiting the city's number of concealed-carry licenses. The police department said it has rejected 77 percent of otherwise qualified permit applicants because they could not show a sufficient need to carry a concealed firearm.
Ryan Hubbard arrived at the permit office Friday to update his firearm registration to reflect his new address and learned while in line that the "good reason" requirement no longer was in force. So Hubbard applied for a concealed-carry permit.
As he waited at D.C. Police headquarters, Hubbard said he saw another man there to submit a concealed carry application.
Hubbard, 28, said he had never applied for a concealed carry permit because he had heard it was too difficult in the District. He said he then asked a few questions and learned that he no longer needed to show a "good reason" after a court order took effect that morning.
"I didn't even know there was any change in the rules . . . I heard about it by chance," said Hubbard, who works for a real estate company. "I think everyone's safer when you have vetted people, who have clear background checks . . . who have the ability to protect themselves."
At a news conference Thursday, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said gun owners should not misinterpret the court ruling to mean they could simply begin carrying a weapon with them: To do so, they must still obtain a permit from the police.
Carrying a gun in public without a permit remains illegal. The District also enforces many security zones around federal buildings and monuments where concealed weapons are not allowed.
"I don't want to give anyone the misimpression that they can just go there and carry a gun right now," Newsham said.
D.C. officials opted not to appeal the unfavorable court ruling because they feared it could provide an opportunity for the Supreme Court to issue a broad decision striking down similar restrictions on the carrying of concealed guns throughout the country.
That is what happened in 2008, when the District's attempt to preserve its handgun ban led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling that not only found such bans unconstitutional but established for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms separate from military service.