Court throws out ruling that invalidated Washington gun limits

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An appeals court on Tuesday threw out a judge's ruling that said licensing requirements in the U.S. capital for people who want to carry concealed handguns outside the home likely violated the U.S. Constitution's protection of the right to bear arms.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on a technicality, meaning it did not decide the merits of whether the regulations in Washington violate the Constitution's Second Amendment. The lawsuit will now be re-assigned to another judge.

The court found that New York-based U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin, who had issued a ruling in May saying the city's restriction was likely unconstitutional, did not have authority to decide the case.

The District of Columbia regulation allows for "concealed-carry" licenses to be issued only if the applicant has "good reason" to fear injury or has another "proper reason for carrying a pistol."

The regulation was passed in September 2014 and went into effect in June after the appeals court issued an order preventing Scullin's injunction from going into effect. The regulation was enacted after Washington's ban on carrying weapons outside the home was struck down by Scullin in 2014.

The regulation was challenged in court by the pro-gun rights Second Amendment Foundation and three individuals who said they wished to carry guns but would not be able to because of the regulation.

Washington long had some of the tightest gun regulations in the United States. But in 2008, the Supreme Court struck down a broad ban on keeping guns, saying that the Second Amendment allows individuals to use guns for lawful purposes, including self-defense in the home. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on whether the Second Amendment allows a broad right to carry guns outside the home.

The case is Wrenn v. District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 15-7057.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)