Arsenal Attorneys’ George L. Lyon, Jr and Matthew J. Bergstrom, on behalf of client Dick Heller (of District of Columbia v. Heller fame) and two other plaintiffs successfully challenged the District of Columbia’s so-called ghost gun statute. As a result, District residents will have the freedom to make their own firearms, subject to DC’s registration requirement and placing a serial number on the firearm.
The District has since 1976 banned the manufacture of a firearm in the city, a plainly unconstitutional prohibition. In 2019, the District passed its so-called ghost gun statute which criminalized the possession of “unfinished” receivers. According to Mr. Lyon, “DC so broadly defined a ghost gun that it likely unintentionally outlawed most polymer frame handguns, including the very Glock handguns the city issues to its own police officers.”
Arsenal Attorneys and Dick Heller determined to challenge the District’s plainly unconstitutional prohibition on self-made firearms. Mr. Heller ordered a Polymer 80 (unfinished receiver) kit and had the kit sent to one of the District’s FFLs in anticipation of registering it. The FFL in turn inquired of the Metropolitan Police Department as to how to handle the matter and was told that the kit was illegal and to send it back to the vendor.
In response, Mr. Heller sued in Federal District Court for the violation of his constitutional rights. Two other District residents who own polymer frame handguns sued on the grounds that the District law appeared to criminalize their possession of their legally acquired and registered polymer framed pistols.
The District, concluding that the law was indefensible, enacted temporary legislation to address the plaintiff’s claims. Among the changes the District made to its law was a provision allowing District residents to make their own firearms subject to registration and placing a serial number on the self-made firearm. Additionally, the District repealed the ban on unfinished receivers and amended its definition of “undetectable” firearm to avoid criminalizing the possession of polymer frame receivers.
The District’s City Council is currently considering a bill to permanently repeal the offending provisions.
As compensation for the denial of Mr. Heller’s civil rights, without admitting liability, the District paid the Heller Foundation $5,000, a nonprofit dedicated to education on gun rights and safety. The District also paid plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and costs in bringing the action in the amount of some $81,000.
Arsenal Attorneys is preparing additional litigation related to DC’s unconstitutional firearms regulations. If you are interested in becoming a plaintiff in one or more of these cases, please contact us.
Arsenal Attorneys is a nationwide law firm headquartered near Washington, DC in Fairfax, Virginia. The firm offers services in estate planning, criminal defense, civil litigation, business law, firearms law, and its proprietary Arsenal Gun Trust. George Lyon is licensed to practice law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. He was one of the plaintiffs in Palmer v. District of Columbia that forced DC to begin issuing concealed carry licenses and in the US Supreme Court's landmark Second Amendment decision, Heller, which legalized handguns in Washington, DC. Mr. Lyon is licensed by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the DC Concealed Carry License course including the renewal course and conducts the course monthly. His next class will be May 21-22. Class will be conducted online in light of continuing COVID 19 health issues, with the shooting portion of the course arranged by appointment. To sign up for his course, contact Mr. Lyon at email@example.com or at 202-669-0442.
By George L. Lyon, Jr, Esq.
As you may have heard the Supreme Court last week dismissed as moot the New York State Rifle and Pistol case that many had hoped would clarify for the lower courts the standard court should use to review second amendment cases. While not unexpected, the 6-3 decision was still a disappointment. Justice Alito wrote a dissenting opening which Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined arguing that the case was not moot and that the city ordinance at issue was unconstitutional. In the penultimate paragraph of his opinion, Justice Alito made the following comment:
“We are told that the mode of review [by the lower courts] in this case is representative of the way Heller has been treated in the lower courts. If that is true, there is cause for concern.”
By George L. Lyon, Jr, Esq.
Arsenal Attorneys frequently advises clients in the concealed carry of firearms, including licenses to carry in the District of Columbia by residents and nonresidents alike. After helping win the battle for these rights, I now help clients renew their carry licenses. This blog provides a summary of the license renewal procedure. But first, some history.
Two years ago, on September 28, 2017, the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals declined to overturn the ruling of its three-judge panel in Wrenn v. District of Columbia finding DC’s ‘may issue’ concealed carry licensing scheme unconstitutional. Since that time, DC has been a ‘shall issue’ concealed carry jurisdiction.
As a result of the court’s ruling, DC concealed carry licenses have increased from 123 in September 2017 to 3,339 as of the end of August 2019. Despite DC’s lamentations that shall issue conceal carry would threaten public safety, the record shows that DC’s concealed carry license holders have been exceedingly law abiding. Since June of 2014, when the courts first forced DC to issue concealed carry licenses, only two concealed carry licenses have been revoked for criminal violations and these were not for violent crimes, but rather for violation of one of DC’s myriad, complex weapons offenses, e.g., possessing a firearm in DC the license holder had not registered.
Nor have DC concealed license holders set off gun fights in the street. There has been just one reported shooting by a DC concealed carry license holder. It occurred when the license holder fired in self-defense when attacked by two would be robbers. No charges were filed against the licensed carrier.
Given that DC requires its concealed carry licenses to be renewed every two years and that quite a few people applied for carry licenses soon after DC went shall issue in September of 2017, we thought we would review the procedure for renewing DC carry licenses. The good news is that unlike the rather complex and time-consuming process for receiving the initial carry license, the renewal process has been greatly streamlined.
Although the initial mandatory training for the DC carry license is 16 hours of classroom instruction and two hours of range training, the renewal training requirement is just four hours of classroom training plus a two-hour range session. The renewal training requirement is mandatory and not waivable. A DC-licensed firearm instructor will provide you a certificate documenting proof of your training which you must submit with your renewal application. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has a portal on its website allowing you to pay the $75 fee and submit the renewal application and training certificate online. It can be accessed at this link. If your renewal is submitted online, your renewed license will be mailed to you in about a week.
Be advised that for reasons unknown the portal is sometimes unreliable. Alternatively, you may submit the application and training certificate at MPD’s firearm registration office at 300 Indiana Avenue to submit your application, training certificate, and $75 renewal fee. When submitting in person, your renewed license will be issued to you after about an hour’s wait.
Remember, a carry license holder may only carry a firearm that has been registered in DC. There is no requirement to re-register the guns that you carry. In a later blog, we will explain which firearms are legal to possess and register in Washington.
Arsenal Attorneys’ George Lyon is licensed to practice law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. He was one of the plaintiffs in the Palmer v. District of Columbia case that forced DC to begin issuing concealed carry licenses and in the Heller case that legalized handguns in Washington, DC. Mr. Lyon is licensed by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the DC concealed carry course including the renewal course and conducts the course monthly. His next class is November 16 in Arlington, Virginia. To sign up for his course, contact Mr. Lyon at gll[at]arsenalattorneys.com or at 703-291-3312.
This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.
By George L. Lyon, Jr
Arsenal Attorneys™ recently learned from sources in the Metropolitan Police Department that the District of Columbia has issued more than 2,000 Concealed Carry Licenses to residents and nonresidents alike. This confirms recent reporting by Daily Caller journalist Kerry Picket, who revealed that until September 2017, as few as 123 persons were able to satisfy the District’s requirement to show a special need to carry a handgun outside the home for personal protection. And then things changed. The District became a shall issue jurisdiction, and, therefore, the number of Concealed Carry Licenses skyrocketed to the 2,000+ total today.
In June of 2017 the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the Wrennand Grace cases determined that the District’s stringent need requirement violated the Second Amendment rights of District residents and visitors. Several months later, after the full DC Circuit refused to disturb that decision, the District quietly accepted the result rather than seek Supreme Court review and risk a decision likely to jeopardize other facets of its restrictive gun laws and those of other states.
Concealed carry permit
holders have arrest and
conviction rates 6 to 10 times
lower than police officers
The 2,000+ DC permit holders are resident and non-resident, non-law enforcement individuals now authorized to carry a gun in the city, and more persons are applying to the Metropolitan Police Department for carry licenses every day.
Which brings us to the question of where is all the crime and violence DC officials predicted if persons were allowed the means to protect themselves with licensed concealed firearms? DC officials have always claimed their restrictive gun laws were necessary for public safety. But former DC Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) Chief Cathy Lanier put the lie to the canard when she admitted that legal gun owners were not the problem.
Although there has been a spike in homicides in the District this year compared to last, violent crime in general is down seven percent this year compared to 2017, and burglary is down eight percent. In no case in which we are aware has a person holding a District of Columbia carry license been charged with a serious crime. That is not surprising at all. Around the nation, concealed carry permit holders have arrest and conviction rates 6 to 10 times lower than even police officers. In the numerous states that have adopted either “shall issue” or permitless carry, i.e. Constitutional carry, the scaremongering of Second Amendment opponents has proven false.
What is surprising is that due to DC’s reputation for stringent gun laws, many residents and nonresidents are still unaware that if they jump through the necessary hoops, they can get a license to carry a concealed handgun in Washington, DC.
Those hoops include submitting an application in person, undergoing fingerprinting, registering their carry gun, and taking 16 hours of classroom firearms training and two hours of range training, including passing a 50 round shooting test from 3 to 15 yards. Assuming there is nothing otherwise disqualifying in the applicant’s background, MPD is required to issue the applicant a concealed carry license.
Arsenal Attorneys’ George Lyon is licensed to practice law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. He was one of the plaintiffs in the Palmer v. District of Columbia case that forced DC to begin issuing concealed carry licenses and in the Heller case that legalized handguns in Washington, DC. Mr. Lyon is licensed by MPD to teach the DC concealed carry course and conducts the course monthly. His next class is scheduled for December 15-16 in Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Lyon can be reached at gll[at]arsenalattorneys.com or at 703-291-3312.
Arsenal Attorneys is committed to answering your questions about estate planning, firearms, business law, litigation, and criminal defense issues.
We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.