Vic­tory for gun rights in D.C.

Coun­cil bows to pres­sure, elim­i­nates ma­jor hur­dles to reg­is­tra­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

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.”

The bill also does away with am­mu­ni­tion re­stric­tions for reg­is­tered gun own­ers. Un­der cur­rent law, res­i­dents face up to a year in jail for pos­ses­sion of any am­mu­ni­tion that is not in the same cal­iber or gauge as the reg­is­tered gun. The city will also can­cel the point­less vi­sion and bal­lis­tics tests that were pre­vi­ously manda­tory. The pro­posal will even al­low the mayor to act as a gun dealer in the event the Dis­trict’s only li­censed bro­ker, Charles Sykes, goes out of busi­ness.

Law-abid­ing gun own­ers will not be in­ad­ver­tently made criminals as the new bill will sus­pend the reg­is­tra­tion re­newal sec­tion of the law un­til Jan. 1, 2014. The Dis­trict cur­rently re­quires re-reg­is­tra­tion ev­ery three years, but MPD wasn’t pre­pared to han­dle the work­load. As a re­sult, many reg­is­tered gun own­ers tech­ni­cally be­came law­break­ers at the end of Jan­uary. This as­pect of the bill will be im­ple­mented on an emer­gency ba­sis so it’s ef­fec­tive be­fore a March dead­line.

Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Phil Men­del­son, Demo­crat at-large, ini­tially pro­posed the leg­is­la­tion in De­cem­ber that tin­kered with the coun­try’s most op­pres­sive firearms laws. This final ver­sion of­fers much more re­lief.

The lib­eral coun­cil is over­whelm­ingly anti-gun, but it is feel­ing the heat from pend­ing court cases and a newly Re­pub­li­can-con­trolled House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Coun­cil­man Jack Evans, Ward 2 Demo­crat, voted for the bill un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure. “Coun­cil mem­ber Men­del­son called me last night and said, ‘This is what I be­lieve we have to do in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the con­cerns raised by Congress and, or, the courts,’ Mr. Evans told The Washington Times. “Although none of us like mak­ing it eas­ier for some­one to have a gun legally, we be­lieve that this is what we have to do.”

With vi­o­lent crime up 40 per­cent this year so far, more D.C. res­i­dents are likely to want a pis­tol to pro­tect them­selves. The good news is that it should be eas­ier to get one by sum­mer. If the full coun­cil passes the final bill in April, it would take ef­fect af­ter a 60-day con­gres­sional re­view pe­riod.

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