Palmer vs. DC and concealed carry in Washington, DC

You may have heard over the weekend that the district court for Washington DC recently overturned the District’s ban on carrying handguns. For more details, I’ll refer you to Alan Gura’s blog, since he’s the guy who won the case anyway. The meat of the decision is that in light of Heller and McDonald, the District court ruled that DC’s ban on carrying handguns was a violation of the Constitution and that DC must implement a system for lawful concealed carry. I assumed that DC would either 1) appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and that this would drag on forever, or that 2) they’d go the Illinois route and try to implement the most odious, Byzantine permit system possible. Then I read three tweets I thought I’d never read:

That was followed shortly by this:

I was quite actually staring at my computer in disbelief when I saw that. I mean…I just…look, I have been doing this for damn near a decade now, and if in 2004 you’d have told me that 10 years later I’d be able to carry a handgun in the District with full reciprocity based on my Virginia carry permit I would have straight up laughed in your face. “No way that’ll ever happen” because come on, who’d have believed you? But fast forward the clock to 2014 and we have concealed carry in Illinois, and now we’re going to have concealed carry in Washington, DC? Are you kidding me? I can’t even begin to report objectively on this because HOLY COW GUYS THERE IS NOW LEGAL CONCEALED CARRY IN WASHINGTON DC.

This is a pretty awesome day.


  1. It isn’t *that* surprising.

    Think about it. Their total ban on concealed carry was just struck down. Until there is a legal reason to re-impose some sort of restrictions (like a new laws, a suspension of the decision or whatever), for all intents and purposes, DC has no legal restrictions on carrying a handgun. Which means that the current status is “if you can own a handgun, you can carry the handgun”.


  2. I agree that these are steps in the right direction, but look what happened in the wake of Heller: they still tried to find ways around the ruling and didn’t comply with it without being forced to. Twitter is a fallible news source, so take those tweets with a brick of salt for now.

    I’m hopeful and enthused, just skeptical. I’ve been at this since the mid ’80’s.

  3. Its now open season on criminals, which is as it should be, and should have been all along. Criminals now have to think twice or even three times the chances that they’ll run into a armed law abiding citizen just at least doubled, if not tripled. Cops should be coming to clean up self-defense shooting, instead of finding dead victims now.

  4. 1. I’m betting the city council will fire the police chief over this.
    2. They will either appeal the decision or implement something similar to what Illinois has.

  5. Not concealed carry, all carry. They have to put in a Constitutionally compliant permit system to restrict it to concealed. Hopefully more or less Illinois carry but with non-resident access.

    That’s actually the bigger part of the ruling IMO, we now have a precedent to take to the Courts to force the states that refuse to issue, even under their own terms, to non-residents to start doing so. If NYC and California have to issue to out-of-staters willing to jump through the hoops it should drive calls for more access from their own residents.

    Plus, of course, if DC has to allow carry then NJ, MD, et al’s claims of “public safety” reasons for restrictions become laughable.

    1. Oregon is also an iffy state with regard to non-residents being able to carry or procure a license. There is no consistent plan, though state law makes it appear that there is and it isn’t in favor of those who want to carry in Oregon. Some county Sheriffs will issue, some won’t. Last time I read there law, it wasn’t in my favor, unless I found one of those will issue Sheriffs’. We need National Reciprocity for licensed carriers, even if it means some sort of minimal requirement for testing/training. They should allow the NSSF to develop the standards, they appear to be a Fair and Responsible organization. Not that there are not others, but the NSSF seems to have the least bitter (if any) taste connected to themselves.

      1. My understanding of Oregon law from researching it a while back is that Sheriffs *may* issue to residents of the 4 contiguous states only: Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California. Other state’s residents are out of luck until a reciprocity bill finally makes it through their legislature.

        1. Correct. Grant County will issue to non-residents from the magic 4 states. Or at least they did last year when I got one.

          1. This is from the Oregon State Police website: “All applications for Concealed Handgun Licenses are initiated through the county Sheriff’s office in your county of residence.” Technically, if you don’t live there, you cannot have one. The question becomes, is your license really valid if they issued you one?

          2. Distinguish between residence and domicile. NY was just forced to permit people domiciled in other states to apply if they also had a “residence”in NY.

  6. I just wrote an email to the Oregon State Police to see if they would be willing to clarify what they have posted on their website.

  7. Alan Gura is the man. That said, Illinois is not as odious or byzantine as New York, California, Hawaii etc…It’s just restrictively expensive. It’s Shall-issue. The only difference is that a sheriff can object to your permit if it tickles his fancy and you don’t get to know why he singled you out. But I suspect that’s more of a growing pains issue.

  8. FYI: Oregon state police said it is the responsibility of the Sheriffs Department and to contact them. So I sent them an email; haven’t heard back yet.

  9. Well, Oregon Sheriffs Office responded without a definitive answer.
    Below are some direct quotes from the reply I received:

    “Residents of states connected to Oregon, including Washington, can obtain an Oregon CHL. Sheriffs MAY issue a CHL, but they are not required to issue.”

    “Most Sheriffs look for a compelling reason. For instance, if you have a business in Oregon, own property in Oregon or have another reason to be in Oregon on a regular basis. Your best bet is to contact the Sheriff in the county in which you spend most of your time. Ask the Civil Division about their criteria for issuing an out-of-state CHL.”

    “Oregon law gives county Sheriffs the authority to issue Concealed Handgun Licenses. The statutes permit — but do not require — Sheriffs to issue CHLs to out-of-state applicants.”

    and lastly, the best answer they provided was this one:

    “Please verify whether or not a Sheriff will issue a CHL to you prior to expending the time and money to participate in an Oregon CHL class.”

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