COM­MENT & ANAL­Y­SIS

Gun own­ers win a round Sec­ond Amend­ment rights ad­vance in Dis­trict and Mary­land

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion -

Af­ter four years of try­ing to hide from the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the Dis­trict re­al­ized its gun laws had to change. On Tues­day, the city coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to re­lax firearm reg­is­tra­tion re­quire­ments. The process to fix the law started just a few weeks af­ter The Washington Times be­gan a se­ries doc­u­ment­ing D.C.’S ex­ces­sive hur­dles to gun own­er­ship.

The pro­posal will elim­i­nate the five-hour train­ing course re­quire­ment, bal­lis­tics test, vi­sion test and am­mu­ni­tion re­stric­tions. It also de­lays for two years the new re-reg­is­tra­tion and mi­cro-stamp­ing re­quire­ments and al­lows the mayor to act as a gun dealer if there is no other fed­eral firearms li­censee in the city. The bill can still be amended in the min­i­mum two weeks be­fore final pas­sage, but Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Phil Men­del­son does not ex­pect sig­nif­i­cant changes. Mayor Vin­cent Gray sup­ports the bill and is ex­pected to sign it.

The lib­eral coun­cil went along with the change only be­cause of pres­sure from the fed­eral leg­isla­tive and ju­di­cial branches. Coun­cil­man Mar­ion Barry, Ward 8 Demo­crat, told The Washington Times that he voted in fa­vor be­cause “D.C. gun laws are in dan­ger of be­ing tam­pered with or over­turned by Congress.” The for­mer mayor added that, “The NRA doesn’t even want reg­is­tra­tion. They don’t want noth­ing. You have to keep track of these guns. It could get stolen from you and used in a crime and it’s eas­ier to trace it back to the owner.” No reg­is­tered gun in the Dis­trict has ever been used in a crime.

Coun­cil Chair­man Kwame Brown fa­vored the bill be­cause, he told us, it does “ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to al­low for a smoother process.” As re­cently as Septem­ber, he re­sponded to the ques­tion of whether he sup­ported the Sec­ond Amend­ment by say­ing, “I don’t think we need more guns on our streets.”

The bill, how­ever, does not lift the city’s ban on the use of guns for per­sonal pro­tec­tion out­side of the home. The Dis­trict and Illi­nois are the only places in the coun­try that refuse to al­low any form of open or con­cealed carry for res­i­dents. On Fri­day, the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Mary­land ruled that the Free State’s re­stric­tive con­cealed carry laws vi­o­lated the Sec­ond Amend­ment. Judge Ben­son Everett Legg con­cluded, “A cit­i­zen may not be re­quired to of­fer a good and sub­stan­tial rea­son why he should be per­mit­ted to ex­er­cise his rights. The right’s ex­is­tence is all the rea­son he needs.”

Mr. Men­del­son said that his com­mit­tee will not ad­dress the carry laws in D.C. un­til the Mary­land case “plays out.” He called it “new ground in ju­rispru­dence” that will be ap­pealed. The at-large Demo­crat said that the Woollard decision wouldn’t re­late to the Dis­trict be­cause the plain­tiff was in a ru­ral area far from po­lit­i­cal big shots. “I do think car­ry­ing has se­vere im­pli­ca­tions for the na­tion’s cap­i­tal,” he told The Washington Times, cit­ing the com­mon ra­tio­nale given by lo­cal of­fi­cials. “We’re dif­fer­ent from Mary­land be­cause we have mo­tor­cades, the pres­i­dent around town, mem­bers of Congress go­ing to the su­per­mar­ket un­escorted.” Dif­fer­ent or not, the Dis­trict needs to re­al­ize that it can­not choose to ex­empt it­self from a fun­da­men­tal pro­vi­sion of the Bill of Rights.

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