3/15/2012

"D.C.’s made-up gun laws"

Emily Gets Her Gun series has some interesting stories.

Washington, D.C. police appear prepared to arrest gun owners even if they aren’t breaking the law. Transporting a gun through the District, whether as a resident or visitor, is not nearly as big of a legal risk as the police department experts say. . . .

A partial victory for gun ownership in DC.
The District has moved one step closer to showing due respect to the Second Amendment. Potential gun owners will now save hours of their time and hundreds of dollars as a council committee voted to eliminate hurdles meant to discourage the law-abiding from keeping arms in the nation’s capital.

The newly-drafted legislation eliminates the five-hour training requirement for gun ownership. As documented in The Washington Times’ “Emily Gets Her Gun” series, this turned out to be the most time-consuming and expensive barrier. The classes, which cost an average of $200, could not even be legally taken within city limits, calling into question the requirement’s constitutionality.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy Lanier asked the council to end the mandatory classes. She told The Washington Times that her department will instead provide a video online or at the registry office that covers gun safety and local laws. “I think it makes sense,” she explained. “We’ll be more consistent with what other jurisdictions do.” . . .
Her archives are available here.

From the Washington Times:
D.C. officials will do just about anything to keep law-abiding citizens from lawfully possessing a gun in the city. The Washington Times’ Emily Miller has found in the “Emily Gets Her Gun” series that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has been spreading false information about firearms ownership. As a result, residents and nonresidents who have done nothing wrong risk false arrest and gun confiscation. As of Friday, the MPD's Firearms Registration Office had not removed the incorrect information from its website.

The registry office supplies a 22-page written guide to prospective gun owners and answers their questions over the phone. The registration packet says that a gun can only be outside the home when “traveling directly to or from a lawful firearm-related activity (registration, hunting, shooting at a practice range, etc.).” This is inaccurate; residents can transport their registered handgun for any legal purpose as long as it is properly stored in their vehicle. The word “directly” is the source of false interpretation by the department, which has been advising the public that a D.C. resident taking his pistol to a shooting range in Maryland or Virginia could not legally stop for gas or for lunch.

Asked about this, D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson told The Washington Times, “They’re just making stuff up.” . . . .
DC doesn't make it easy to get the training to get guns. The list has gradually got more out of date, making it progressively more difficult for people meet DC's rules for getting a handgun permit.

The Washington Times’ Emily Miller has been closely documenting each step required in the process of exercising her Second Amendment right to keep arms. One of these is the mandatory gun “safety” course consisting of four hours of classroom instruction and one hour on the shooting range. For this, the city hands prospective gun owners a long list of instructors who have been certified by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the class.

As Miss Miller revealed, this sheet of 47 phone numbers hadn’t been updated since September 2009. The majority were cellphones that went directly to voicemail when called, seven lines were out of service, two said they don’t teach the course anymore and one teaches the class only in Colorado and Georgia.

Within a month after Miss Miller’s story appeared, the registry office quietly posted an updated list of instructors online. The new document included Donna Worthy, an instructor who had been trying without success to get on the list for two years, along with another 15 new instructors. The police also deleted 14 obsolete names, undoubtedly saving other residents from wasting time making dead-end calls. The city additionally updated the detailed list of firearms that it will allow residents to purchase. . . .


More problems are discussed here.

As part of the ongoing “Emily gets her gun” series, The Washington Times’ Emily Miller has documented each step in the convoluted process the council concocted to thwart legal gun ownership. One of the most obnoxious hurdles she has found so far is the requirement that prospective gun owners undertake four hours of classroom and one hour of range “safety” training. As Mr. Mendelson explained to his colleagues Tuesday, “That training can’t be offered in the District of Columbia because our law is such that in order to handle a gun, it has to be registered to you. But you can’t register the gun until you’ve had the training.”

To break out of the difficulty, Mr. Mendelson proposes to clarify that the shooting portion of the training could happen within the city limits. In addition, he’d specify that individuals don’t need to take the test for each gun they purchase and that military personnel with firearms training wouldn’t have to waste their time taking a D.C.-specific class. Ballistic testing of each gun would also be eliminated.

These are all sensible steps in the right direction, but more must be done to reverse the District’s revival of the despicable Jim Crow-era gun laws.

Following the Civil War, many Southern states required blacks to obtain police permission before they could own guns - which, of course, was never granted. Ratification of the 14th Amendment forced officials to be a bit more subtle with their racially motivated laws. So in 1871, Tennessee came up with “An Act to Preserve the Peace and Prevent Homicide” that made carrying anything but expensive military pistols a crime punishable by a $50 fine and three months in jail. The statute put the price of self-defense beyond the reach of most blacks, and it even included an instruction to local sheriffs that its provisions be “strictly enforced.” . . .
UPDATE: Some things to remember about the debate over gun registration from 2009.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, announced last week that she wants to register guns. Her next move will be to try to confiscate them.
The speaker picked a television show with a viewership of 4.6 million to float the Democrats' coming gun-control push. Questioned on ABC's “Good Morning America” about the prospect of new gun-control laws now that “it's a Democratic president, a Democratic House,” she responded, “We don't want to take their guns away. We want them registered.” 
Politicians and bureaucrats routinely claim that registration helps solve crimes. If a registered gun is used in a crime and left at the crime scene, registration supposedly lets the police trace the gun back to the criminal. Though this turn of events might work on fictional TV crime shows, it virtually never occurs in real life. Criminals' guns are rarely left at crime scenes. When guns are left behind, it usually is because a crook has been seriously injured or killed and the police are poised to catch him anyway. 
The few guns left at crime scenes rarely - if ever - are registered to the perpetrator. If they are registered at all, it is to someone else, whose piece was stolen. Despite what Mrs. Pelosi might think, those who use guns to commit major crimes such as robbing and killing are unlikely to respect her request to file paperwork so the government can catalog the tools of their trade. . . . 

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