D.C. Denies That It Ordered Cops to Ignore a Court Order Requiring them To Not Reject Gun Carry Permit Requests for Lack of "Good Reason"


Devin Watkins wrote at The Federalist today that an officer accepting his application for a concealed carry permit in D.C. told him outright that he'd been told by the city's Attorney General's office to ignore a recent court order overturning an old requirement that a permit receiver must have a "good reason" to get his permit. (See Jacob Sullum from last week, "Federal Judge Tells D.C. to Stop Demanding a 'Good Reason' for Carrying a Gun.")

As Watkins wrote at The Federalist:

I went to apply for a concealed-carry permit in the District of Columbia. The police officers there told me the D.C. attorney general's office had ordered them to ignore the court order and continue to deny applications. Thinking there might be some kind of mistake, I contacted the AG's office, which explicitly told me if I had a complaint about what they did I could file that complaint online.

In a phone interview with Watkins, I got him to elaborate. The city has 90 days to consider the application, so he has not officially been denied yet. The incident occurred on May 17.

Richard Leon/Wikipedia

But Watkins says what the receiving officer told him—he did not get the name—strongly implied that his lack of listing the "good reason" would mean he would be denied, and that they had been told by the attorney general's office to ignore the ruling.

Watkins handed in a copy of that ruling along with his application. He does not know the name or position of the person at the attorney general's office who responded to his complaint about the matter with telling him he should just file a complaint online.

As Watkins wrote in a follow up email:

 I told [the officer taking his application] "you do understand that ignoring a court order could potentially find you in contempt of court." They said "look sir, this is not a court of law. We just do what our superiors like the AGs office order us to do." I insisted that they take my application anyway even if they were going to deny it in the end.

The city did on May 18 write in a press release that "we believe that the District's gun laws are reasonable and necessary to ensure public safety in a dense urban area, and we will request a stay of this decision while we appeal."

But Robert Marus, a press officer for the D.C. attorney general's office, vigorously denied that they'd given any such order to disobey the order in the meantime.

In an emailed statement, he wrote "the Office of the Attorney General has not and would not instruct any officer of the District government to ignore any Court order" and directed me to a statement on the D.C. police website as of May 19 that reads in part:

the Metropolitan Police Department will not require applicants to comport with the "Good Reason" requirement under D.C. Official Code § 7-2509.11(1)(A) & (B), while the injunction is effective (see "Grace Preliminary Injunction" document, attached below).

Applicants must still meet all other requirements when applying for a license to carry a concealed firearm.  Applicants who were previously denied pursuant to the "Good Reason" requirement may submit a new application.  The application fee for re-applicants meeting this criteria will be waived. 

Marus further said in an interview that "we are checking with the [police department] to make sure people aren't mistakenly verbally giving wrong information."

Watkins says the form available to him on May 17 when the incident occurred was still the old one. He sent me this link to the police site, which indeed still asks about your "good reason" for wanting the permit.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's order overturning the "good reason" requirement.