Congress want the right to carry concealed weapons in DC
In the first month since D.C.'s concealed carry restrictions were struck down, more than 120 people applied for a concealed carry permit. The previous month? Only one application.
On Sunday, Devin Kelley walked into a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and began shooting worshipers in the pews. The only armed person in the building, reports indicate that Kelley was able to go from person to person and execute churchgoers.
His rampage only ended after a neighbor showed up with a rifle of his own. Hearing the gunfire, this good samaritan -- who is not being named -- engaged Kelley, forcing him to end his killing spree and flee. Eye witnesses say that one of the neighbor's shots hit and wounded the killer, causing him to bleed out on the side of the road in an adjacent county.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton gave a number of interviews following the shooting. On Fox News, he was asked to comment on what Texans should do to in the future to stop these sorts of attacks.
As far as what we can do in the future, I mean, the only thing I know — because you can’t necessarily keep guns out of the hands of people who are going to violate the law. If somebody’s willing to kill someone they’re also going to be willing to violate a gun law ... All I can say is that in Texas, at least we have the opportunity to have concealed carry. And so if it’s a place where somebody has the ability to carry, there’s always the opportunity that gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people.”
As was expected, this shooting has renewed the conversation over America's gun laws. But the fact that the killing was halted by an armed citizen, and not a police officer, has thrust the District of Columbia's gun laws into the discussion as well.
Last month, District Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that he would not be appealing the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision on the Wrenn and Grace cases. The Appellate court refused to reinstate the District's "may-issue" carry laws, meaning that the City must approve carry permits for anyone who legally qualifies. The police chief is no longer allowed to arbitrarily reject applications.
Racine chose not to appeal because he did not want to risk setting national precedent. The next case to reach the Supreme Court on the right to bear arms will likely result in eight other states' gun laws being overturned, and the District did not want to be responsible for that.
So, currently, anyone who applies for a Washington, D.C., carry permit and meets the District's legal and training qualification must be approved. The City Council is currently debating a new carry law, however, any new District law must first be approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Since stricter gun laws will likely be rejected by Congress, the Council is so far electing to allow the gutted law to remain in place.
It remains unclear how the District of Columbia will treat non-resident applications or out-of-state carry permits, and if the City Council chooses not to honor them, they could find themselves back in court.
Washington, D.C., obviously has its own unique security challenges. It is home to all three branches of government, offices for every federal agency, and embassies/consulates for most, if not all, of the world's countries. Whatever new carry law the City Council drafts will have to balance the rights of citizens to defend themselves in public and the security of the city's VIPs. However, the District and Appeals Courts have now decided that those security interests cannot be used to justify a blanket ban on civilians carrying guns.
There is a lot that is still not known about the shooter or his attack, and more information will come to light in the coming days. But what is clear is that since the Appellate Court ruled D.C.'s gun law unconstitutional, carry permit applications have skyrocketed.
In October, the District saw a total of 217 firearm background checks performed. More than two thirds of these background checks were part of carry permit applications. Since D.C. law requires applicants to receive training, it is likely that this number will rise significantly as more applicants are able to take the requisite classes.
With more and more licensed gun owners being allowed to carry firearms in the District, it will be interesting to see what effect these lawful carriers have on the District of Columbia's crime rate.
What do you think? Will concealed carry make D.C. safer? Let us know in the comment section below!