The DC Court of Appeals in Hooks v. U.S., decided on August 30, 2018, in effect modified the DC handgun licensing requirements to be consistent with the D.C Circuit Court Decision in Wrenn.
The DC Statute currently applicable to licensing is codified under D.C. Code § 22-4504 (a) and provides:
The Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (“Chief”) may, upon the application of a person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the District of Columbia, or of a person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the United States and a license to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person issued by the lawful authorities of any State or subdivision of the United States, issue a license to such person to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person within the District of Columbia for not more than 2 years from the date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol, and that he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed.
The decision in Wrenn invalidated the “good reason to fear injury to his or her person” provision of the Statute as unconstitutional.
Defendant Hooks argued in the current case (1) that by holding the District’s “good reason” requirement for obtaining a license to carry a pistol unconstitutional, Wrenn declared the CPWL statute invalid; and (2) that the CPWL conviction violated his Second Amendment right to carry a pistol outside the home.
The DC Court of Appeals disagreed holding that Wrenn did not broaden the definition of “good-reason law” to include the licensing requirement itself, however the statutory language in § 22-4504 needed to be modified to exclude “good reason law” and as such the § 22-4506 now, in effect, should read:
The Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department . . .may, upon the application of a person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the District of Columbia . . . issue a license to such a person to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person, if . . . he or she is a suitable person to be so licensed.
Suitability is defined as not having a prior felony conviction and having completed the fire arm training course, and other procedural requirements are defined in D.C. Code § 7- 2502.03 (a)(2), (13)(A)-(B).
Thus because the District had not issued Hooks a license to carry a pistol at the time of his arrest, and he could not have qualified for one as a convicted felon, his conviction falls squarely within the constitutional exceptions of the Wrenn court and also the Supreme Court in Heller and will stand.
Overall, the application of the Second Amendment on a right to carry handgun has been expansive and the arbitrary restrictions on licensing requirements have been held unconstitutional.
Refer to our Washington DC Criminal Lawyer page for more information on this topic.