With the ban lifted after a momentous, years-long legal battle that led to the landmark high court decision last month, here’s how many applications the city received by day’s end: one.
Bracing for a crowd at the registration office, at police headquarters on Indiana Avenue NW, officials set up a reception counter in the lobby and used portable metal railings to reserve one of the building’s entrances for “gun registry applicants.” Officers stood guard at the door, and a dozen reporters and TV cameras were waiting expectantly at 7 a.m., when the registration process was to begin.
But in the eight hours that the office remained open, there was no crush of people eager to avail themselves of the newly affirmed right to own a revolver in the nation’s capital. Police gave out 58 registration packets to people stopping by for the materials. But only two people showed up to apply to register handguns, and one was turned away by police officials because he didn’t bring his weapon with him, as the registration rules require.
And the beauty part?
The would-be applicant who was turned away was Capitol Hill resident Dick A. Heller, whose lawsuit prompted the Supreme Court ruling that scuttled the city’s strict firearms control laws.
Seems Mr. Heller was unaware that he would need to show the handgun he wanted to register to the authorities, and allow it to be test-fired as part of the process. His two handguns were stored with a friend in Maryland. So he would have to bring them across the District line, and was apparently advised not to do so without written permission (though it would have been legal). My guess is that his adviser (from the Bill of Rights Foundation) realized that the situation was already embarrassingly newsworthy without Heller also getting pulled over and questioned about bringing weapons into D.C.
I laughed for 10 minutes after reading that.
We haven’t heard the last of this guy, though. When Heller does manage to get his guns into the District, he probably won’t like the newly revised regulations.
The gun bill establishes regulations for residents to keep handguns in their homes legally to comply with last month’s historic Supreme Court decision that found the city’s 32-year prohibition of handguns unconstitutional.
City leaders say the legislation goes as far as it can on gun regulations while respecting the high court’s ruling. Weapons must be unloaded, disassembled or trigger-locked, except when there is a “threat of immediate harm to a person” in the home.
The legislation also requires that guns remain inside homes. It requires eye and written exams for gun owners, and ballistics tests conducted by police.
And not just that. This guy, and his backers, want semi-automatic weapons next. My guess is they want to keep them assembled, fully loaded, trigger unlocked, and tucked under a pillow. Maybe just take a truckload of Uzis, back it up to the National Mall, dump them out, and let everyone go for whatever they want. Maybe by the time all is said and done, D.C. will be like Geuda Springs, Kansas, where the law mandates that citizens own guns and ammunition. They can be fined $10 for noncompliance. I wonder what happens if a resident repeatedly refuses to buy a gun, and refuses to pay any fines. Come the revolution, could people be arrested for not owning a gun? Does the right to bear arms also imply a freedom not to bear arms?
I don’t pretend to know, and the suggestions above are nearly ridiculous (but in one case, very real) extremes. So, I’ll ask the same question I asked before that I don’t remember being answered: to gun rights advocates, what would you consider to be “reasonable” gun laws?