A federal judge sided Monday with the District of Columbia in an ongoing dispute over the city's strict gun law, agreeing that the city can continue to enforce it while a lawsuit proceeds.
Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied a motion by opponents for a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of portions of the law. Opponents immediately said in a court filing they are appealing the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Opponents of the law include city residents and the Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation. They object to portions of the law that require a person who wants to carry a concealed handgun outside their home to show he or she has a "good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property" or another "proper reason" for carrying the weapon. Reasons might include a personal threat, or a job that requires a person to carry or protect cash or valuables.
Kollar-Kotelly said in her 31-page ruling that opponents had not shown that their lawsuit was likely to be successful, leading her to deny the request for a preliminary injunction. She also noted that appeals courts in other parts of the country had approved of laws in New York, New Jersey and Maryland that are similar to the District of Columbia's.
Kollar-Kotelly's ruling follows a lengthy legal back-and-forth in the case already. Opponents were initially granted a preliminary injunction by another judge in May 2015. That ruling was appealed, and the appeals court ruled late last year that the judge didn't have the authority to decide the case. Kollar-Kotelly was then assigned to the case.
Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said in a telephone interview that the ruling was what they had expected from Kollar-Kotelly but that he appreciated that she made a quick ruling so that it could be appealed. Gottlieb said opponents look forward to ultimately winning their case.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine, whose office has been defending the city's gun law, said in a statement that his office was pleased with the ruling "because it means the District will be able to continue enforcing its law requiring applicants for permits to carry concealed guns in public to state a `good reason' for doing so."