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10/06/2017

No Petition for Cert in DC Second Amendment Case
Michael Ramsey

Via Eugene Volokh at Volokh Conspiracy, the District of Columbia apparently has decided not to seek Supreme Court review in Wrenn v. District of Columbia, involving challenges to DC's restrictions on the ability to carry concealed weapons in public The DC Circuit invalidated the provisions on a 2-1 vote (Judge Griffith writing for the majority, joined by Judge Williams; Judge Henderson dissenting); the full court then (surprisingly, to me) denied rehearing.

That leaves in place Judge Griffith's textualist and (especially) historical originalist panel opinion.  The opinion notes that "the Amendment’s text protects the right to 'bear' as well as 'keep' arms. ... [I]t’s more natural to view the Amendment’s core as including a law abiding citizen’s right to carry common firearms for self defense beyond the home (subject again to relevant “longstanding” regulations like bans on carrying “in sensitive places”)."  The opinion then assess the history at length, including pre-Convention English history and post-ratification judicial assessments well into the nineteenth century.  (For criticism of the panel's use of history, see here from Fordham University legal historian Saul Cornell).

As Professor Volokh relates, DC officials were expressly worried about a loss at the Supreme Court: 

"I continue to believe the District’s ‘good reason’ requirement is a common-sense, and constitutional, gun regulation,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) said in a statement announcing the decision with the mayor and police chief. “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.”

I don't see how this issue stays out of the Court for much longer though.  So perhaps originalists have something to look forward to, despite the 2017 Term's general tendency toward major nonoriginalist cases.