Legal Issues

Courts Affirms You Have a Right to Self-Defense Beyond the Home in D.C.

Gavel with American flag

Lawmakers and judges in favor of gun control have continually tried to weaken the Second Amendment and deny citizens of their constitutional protections and rights under the Second Amendment by imposing a “good reason” requirement. The Second Amendment was not written with any such condition and was purely a fabrication by forces intent on gutting the Second Amendment. This week, the Court said as much. Second Amendment document The Supreme Court set the record straight in 2008 with its District of Columbia v. Heller decision—or so we thought. At a minimum, the Heller decision clarified that the Second Amendment does apply to individuals. However, lawmakers and gun control lobbies have skirted this ruling not by completely refusing a citizen the right to self-defense, but by forcing them to prove they have a “good reason.” Of course, the “good reason” requirement was merely a subversion of the law that allowed anti-gunners to deny people their protections guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

That is until now.

This week, the Second Amendment Foundation won a precedent-setting victory against “good reason” requirements for concealed carry in our Nation’s capital when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of such a requirement in Washington, D.C.

The 2-1 ruling was written by Judge Thomas Beall Griffith. Judge Griffith is a George W. Bush appointee, so he has been on the bench for over a decade. In Griffith’s writing of the decision he stated:

“At the Second Amendment’s core lies the right of responsible citizens to carry firearms for personal self-defense beyond the home, subject to longstanding restrictions… The District’s good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents. That’s enough to sink this law under (the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller ruling).”

“Today’s ruling contains some powerful language that affirms what we have argued for many years, that requiring a so-called ‘good cause’ to exercise a constitutionally-protect right does not pass the legal smell test,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We’re particularly pleased that the opinion makes it clear that the Second Amendment’s core generally covers carrying in public for self-defense.” Lest any of The Shooter’s Log’s readers—or the people you will hopefully share this news with—believe this to be pro Second Amendment rhetoric or the personal opinion and rantings of a gun nut, the court went on to state in its 31-page majority opinion that the District of Columbia’s “good cause” requirement was essentially designed to prevent the exercise of the right to bear arms by most District residents. Therefore, the net effect of the requirement amounted to nothing more than a complete prohibition in direct contradiction to the 2008 Heller decision that struck down the District of Columbia’s 30-year handgun ban.

Judge Griffith continued, “The good-reason law, is necessarily a total ban on most D.C. residents’ right to carry a gun in the face of ordinary self-defense needs…” The Second Amendment Foundation, an organization that is no stranger to the pages of The Shooter’s Log, led the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) fight in Wrenn v. District of Columbia. After the decision was handed down, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb released a statement saying, “To read the majority opinion and not come away convinced that such ‘good reason’ or ‘good cause’ requirements are just clever ways to prevent honest citizens from exercising their rights is not possible. To say we are delighted with the ruling would be an understatement. We are simply more encouraged to keep fighting and winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.

Donate Now Button

What implication do you think the Wrenn v. District of Columbia decision will have in other areas of the country? Share your answers or opinions in the comment section.

The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.  Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (17)

  1. I suspect the Ruling of No. 16-7025 Wrenn vs the District of Columbia’s “the Good Reason Law” of 25 July 2015. Has more to do with the Proximity of the White House…

  2. Hello gman. I would like to share my story with you. I am ex-law enforcement 10 yrs. on may 5, 2016 i was involved in a car accident. police and ems responded to the seen i suffered a head injury so i had to go to the hospital. My wife informed me via phone that she left my put my gun in the car because we was arguing the night before and she wanted it out of the house. I informed the responding officer of its presence and gave it to him without probable cause informing him of me being an ex cop and being licensed for 20 yrs. My permit was expired and i was charged with carry a firearm (concealed) without a license. because of my clean background i was offered a mis3 dis con and 1 yr probation. I be excepted this deal on the grounds that my firearm be return and my permit be reinstated, right? wrong. the judge gave me a court order signed by him to get my gun and i was denied by the police. The sheriff also denied my permit all because while on probation i cannot be in possession of a firearm. This was all part of the resolution to this case as stated by the judge on the minutes. i was told that they are sorry and they made a mistake judge-pros.e.cuter-and my public pretender. Now i wait to see what is next because i have not held up my end of the deal. I have not complied with probation nor made one payment. If i get it trouble for this? should’nt they? Where is the justice? I’m screwed for being honest giving the gun. And stupid for trusting the court system. Let’s start changing all sentence’s….”hey bud i know you agreed to five yrs. but the judge made a mistake here is another 15″ is that o.k? So here i am stripped of my 2nd amendment right and see people i arrested without a gun just waiting for the day that one of those people do something to me. What do you think about this situation? Honesty do not pay …. Lost in pa. an open carry state.

    1. victor velez (I feel there is good info here so read thoroughly),

      It appears that you think the judge’s failure to uphold his end of your plea agreement could somehow be used to exonerate you for your probation violations. But two wrongs don’t make a right. These are two distinctly separate issues which have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

      Violating conditions of your probation was the worst mistake you could have made. So whereas before you could have gone after the judge (or prosecutors), now you’ve instead severely damaged any credibility you may have had going forward towards correcting the judge’s error and seeking relief.

      However, you still may have options. Based on your comments it appears you are currently awaiting a determination on the consequences of your probation violations. Every state’s procedure regarding probation violations vary, so use my advice as a general guide should you decide to apply it to your case.

      I am assuming you qualified for a public defender the first time around, so you need to see if contesting your probation violations will qualify you for another public defender. Doing this should stall any probation violation action, but the real purpose would be so you can get a new public defender and convince him/her to work on getting your entire charges dismissed.

      Your new attorney should be able to pursue filing two petitions. The first petition should be to request a withdrawal of the entire original plea agreement based on the fact the prosecutors entered into an agreement with you that the law prevented them from upholding (i.e., you couldn’t get your gun back, etc.).

      If you win that, your sentence and/or conviction may get thrown out entirely and the prosecution must start over. Often they won’t re-file and you will walk free. But sometimes they try to push for a new plea deal.

      However by this time you are now in a stronger position to turn down a plea and demand it go to trial. A prosecutor faced with that prospect over such a weak case will probably drop the charges completely. Why is it weak? Read on…

      If charges are not dropped or are re-filed, the second petition your public defender should file is an entire appeal. Some states won’t allow appeals if you’ve already confessed and taken a plea agreement, but yours will be different given the broken plea deal and the fact you can show your original public defender was incompetent. Allow me to explain how, as follows:

      Simply put, it was never your crime. Assuming your wife was willing to testify that she placed the firearm in the vehicle without your knowledge, any competent attorney would have been obligated to present such facts to the judge and move for a complete dismissal of all charges from day one.

      In addition, your wife’s testimony could not have incriminated her either because storing the firearm in your vehicle was also not a criminal act on your property. It is lawful in PA to possess a firearm unlicensed on your own property – in and around your abode. That includes a parked vehicle on your property as long as it remains there.

      Based on what you’ve stated, your wife temporarily secured the firearm in a shared vehicle on your shared property without your knowledge. She was not being malicious and simply forgot to remove it before you left. As such, her actions alone were not illegal either.

      She would only be culpable if she was the one operating the vehicle since she put the gun there… not you.

      Assuming there is nothing more to this story, I honestly feel your public defender was incompetent for not presenting such simple information to the prosecutors and get them to drop the charges. Worse is that he/she recommended you take any sort of plea deal despite such evidence to defend you and establish your innocence.

      I hope I’ve helped. However, as always use my advice at your own risk. Only you can make the right decisions because only you really know the whole story.

    2. Hate to play devil’s advocate, but his permit was expired. Whose fault is that? Whole thing could have been avoided.

    3. Bootlegbob,

      Obviously you weren’t able to deduce from my post that the status of his license has no bearing on the case whatsoever. He could go a lifetime without ever having a permit and still lawfully own a firearm on and around his own property in Pennsylvania. That includes storing it in parked vehicles while on his own property.

      As I’ve already stated, he was not the one that put the gun in his vehicle, nor was he aware his wife temporarily stored the gun in his vehicle prior to the time he drove it off his property, therefor he is not responsible in any way, shape, or form. There simply was no crime.

      His wife could testify that she stored the gun in the vehicle without his knowledge and forgot to retrieve it before he departed. It was her mistake, not his. And thus all charges against him must be dropped.

      Thereafter they couldn’t charge the wife because she didn’t break any laws either – as it was her lawful right to put the gun anywhere she pleased while on her own property. The entire matter is a wash and a good defense attorney should have easily been able to get this dismissed.

      And for the record, there are more gun owners without licenses in PA that lawfully prefer to keep their gun at home than licensees who carry concealed on their person. So I repeat – there is absolutely no license required to purchase a firearm for home-use in PA.

      As far as this particular case is concerned, it was all about a lawful home-use only type weapon that never required a license, but mistakenly got driven off the property without the vehicle operator’s knowledge. The facts and testimony back that up. Case closed.

    4. True that his “permit” was expired, but having to have PERMISSION to have a weapon, concealed or open carried, is still an INFRINGEMENT on the second amendment. Shame on such a great state as Pennsylvania. This guy is not a felon, was former law enforcement,, and did qualify for a “permit”, regardless of it being expired.
      The same city could possibly be a sactuary city, which do protect illegals from being prosecuted for actually committing a real CRIME. It’s not a crime to exercise a Constitutional RIGHT.
      Come on Pennsylvania, give a guy a break, and dismiss this case.

  3. For more info into the rights of the people , please read amendments 9 and 10. The context of these two amendments with the 2nd amendment show how liberals lie by trying to change the reasoning behind the constitution.

  4. No one wants to talk about the elephant in the room! The second amendment is very clear and directly states “shall not be infringed.”
    If by reading the federalist papers and the constitution you infer a different meaning to these words you must think you are smarter than anyone else and by definition you are a traitor!
    These traitors are what I mean by the elephant in the room yet we suffer these fools in every branch of government!
    There are too many unconstitutional laws on the books to possibly list them all but to name a few let’s start with the Patriot act, the federal reserve act and the Smith Mundt modernization act of 2012. By congress passing and the president signing these laws they have exposed themselves for the traitors they are yet we do nothing! We even re-elect them!
    This country has devolved into a socialist republic where sheep are led to slaughter by the Judist goat. We no longer take personal responsibility or hold elected officials to any constitutional standard! Any law that is unconstitutional is therefore no law and as the federalist papers state, we have a duty, (responsibility) to resist and hold these traitors responsible!
    This elephant has already crushed and bruised our libertys beyond a reasonable point that I fear the worst is only a generation away. This is how Trump got elected and I fear the swamp is going to destroy him before any meaningful change has taken place.

  5. With the loss of Peruta v. San Diego last year in the Ninth Circuit, one may worry over the possibility that this too could end badly if appealed. At a glance these two cases appear quite similar.

    The parallels between this D.C. case and California’s Peruta v. San Diego are that both cases were intended to contest anti-gun “good cause” clauses written into laws for the purpose of circumventing the Heller ruling and Second Amendment protections.

    Further similarities exist in that both cases had an initial loss, but were later overturned on appeals in support of the Second Amendment. From here the similarities abruptly end between these West and East Coast cases.

    While the recent ruling in the D.C. case currently remains a win for pro-gunners now, California’s Peruta case ultimately lost when it was later challenged in the full Ninth Circuit by California and outside anti-gun groups. It remains there never to be challenged again despite efforts by pro-gun advocates who attempted to have it heard one last time by the Supreme Court, but were denied this year.

    Similarities were also dashed by the failed tactics used by the appellants’ attorneys in the California case. I said back then these attorneys were blowing their chances when they allowed the case to devolve into an argument specifically about “concealed” carry rather than the right to carry in general under Heller.

    The anti-gun Ninth Circuit used that misstep to their advantage and ruled strictly based only on the merits of “concealed” type carry; and even rubbed salt in the wound by stating that had the appellees brought up the limitations on other types of carry – such as the current California ban on open carry – the court might have ruled differently.

    Simply put, had the attorneys argued properly that the California ban on open carry left only “concealed” carry as a means for the State to comply with the landmark Heller ruling under the Second Amendment, that would have forced the court to agree and issue a ruling that compelled California to allow one method or the other (concealed or open) and with minimal restrictions.

    Worse is that their incompetence led the Ninth Circuit’s debauchery to add that the Second Amendment does not protect or create a right to “concealed” carry, which thereafter became the entire bases which finally lost the case. The damage such case law may cause for the Second Amendment in future cases is incalculable.

    However in the D.C. ruling, these attorneys got it right. They did what Peruta v. San Diego miserably failed to do. They tackled the Courts head on without any tricks or fear by using the Heller ruling and straight up proved these bogus “good reason” requirements were never for public safety at all, but instead were methods used by anti-gun politicians to circumvent our Constitutional rights… and they won.

    As for the only dissenting judge, she is none other than the Honorable Karen L. Henderson who has voted against every single one of these Second Amendment D.C. cases going back to Miller/Heller.

    Laughably during one of her dissents she actually wrote that the Second Amendment does not apply to Washington D.C. because a part of it reads, “…the security of a free State” and since D.C. isn’t a State, she feels the Second Amendment cannot apply.

    1. G-Man, see my statement below. If DC isn’t a state, which it isn’t, then isn’t the “district of Columbia” Federal domain? That is for all citizens to have, as it houses our Government employed, which we pay their salaries, their housing costs,.
      So, if DC has no state status, how can they legalize marijuana for recreational use? The Feds don’t even truly recognize California and Colorado’s state laws for recreational use of a schedule 1 drugs?
      Sorry, it’s a bit off topic, but that has never made sense to me how DC voted and approved it ( I think)?

    2. Deplorable Robert,

      Your last comment is most definitely a worthy topic unto itself. But the last couple of paragraphs in my last post speaks more to the immature and ignorant antics of a Judge willing to make a play on verbiage that she knew was wrong, but did not care.

      Any scholar of Constitutional law – which no longer can include Judge Henderson – knows the meaning of “free state” in the Constitution was settled long ago. Rather than settled, I should really say it was never even questioned.

      The 18th century political vernacular overwhelmingly used the term “free state”, both spoken and in official writings, to specifically refer to our entire free Country – which obviously included the habitants of Washington D.C.

      To fully register the dangerous gravity of Judge Henderson’s written dissent, one must be reminded this woman was entrusted to a very serious office in the higher courts and charged with blindly carrying out justice for all, and without any bias.

      Therefore, upon one’s examination of her wanton disregard to so flagrantly redefine the centuries old definition of a “free state” for the purpose of skirting her responsibility and oath to uphold the Second Amendment for citizens of Washington D.C., is an utter abomination.

      Justice is supposed to be blind, but not stupid.

  6. I way I see it, D.C. is a “Federal” city, since it’s not a state. The constitution does alot a specific amount of land and building blah blah blah…so, they want and have that classification, I feel ANY citizen has the right to carry there, until they commit a crime, there IS NO CRIME. DC belongs to all US citizens. We pay the salaries, the rental fees for our government officials etc. It is for all folks, to be able to defend ourselves where need be.

    1. I am going to be the proverbial fly in the ointment and come off saying that there might just be another interpretation of the meaning of the word “state” and how it is used. What I believe the framers meant had a dual meaning “State” as in a physical manifestation and the “Mental” as in state of mind and or ell being All definitions would apply. When one is shackled by tyrannical edict there can be no “free state” of anything mind spirit body or reality!! I contend these conditions were on the framers mind when they authored the second amendment.

      When we have morons who think they are the most important things in America is when we have issues of them trying to second guess what the framers had in mind putting themselves in their places and of course believing they are more intellectual and sophisticated.

      NONE of these fools live’s are in jeopardy because of treason against the crown. Their treasonous acts are against the “People” and our Constitution and as most of America is apathetic they can fee free to usurp our tights with impunity!! Apathy gives tacit approval for what government does is acceptable!

      Anyone who does not act or sits by waiting for others to act are themselves traitors, maybe not in the traditional sense but traitors to themselves and their ancestors.

  7. I do not think that this will help “shall issue” carry or “open carry” in areas that have banned them(other than DC). States that hate gun owners will never come around until the SCOUS forces it. We must fight the good fight and the sooner the better.

    1. I agree in part. Every favorable decision helps our cause and is another point that can be used in litigation in the states you reference. D.C. will likely appeal this decision, which could ultimately result in it being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. ~Dave Dolbee

    2. And, hopefully, they will address the unconstitutional decision of the 9th circus as well.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.