Tuesday, July 15, 2008

D.C. is at it again

They don't give up easily, I'll give them that.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the D.C. City Council, along with Police Chief Cathy Lanier, have proposed yet more onerous legal hurdles for their citizens to jump through in order to purchase and possess firearms for the purpose of home defense.

Perusing the press release, there seems to be two parts to their plan to continue to deny the residents of Washington their Second Amendment rights. It appears that Chief Lanier is going to be allowed to come up with a plethora of arbitrary rules regarding registering firearms and licensing local dealers all on her own, with no prior legislative approval. Meanwhile, the D.C. City Council and Mayor Fenty are planning legislation designed to impose requirement after requirement for the registration process, in an obvious attempt to make it so difficult and expensive to complete the process that only the rich and obsessively patient will accomplish it.

Here's Chief Lanier's "emergency" rules for a resident of the city who wishes to purchase a handgun, along with my comments in bold:

Provisions for registering a handgun purchased for self-defense in a District residence.

a. A District resident who seeks to register a handgun must obtain an application form from MPD’s Firearms Registration Section and take it to a firearms dealer for assistance in completing it.

That comes dangerously close to " having to ask for permission" to exercise a right, in my view. Why can't the forms just be available at the dealer? Because this is a prime opportunity for the police to intimidate and inconvenience a purchaser, raising the chance of their just giving up.

b. The applicant must submit photos, proof of residency and proof of good vision (such as a driver’s license or doctor’s letter), and pass a written firearms test.

What? No dental exam? Good teeth are important to firearms safety as well. These so-called requirements seem to be quite arbitrary and easy to manipulate. What is the "good vision" standard? 20/20? 20/100? Corrected or uncorrected? As long as we're asking, what kind of photo, anyway? Probably not the kind that the applicant will show up with, naturally. Additionally, I didn't see anything in the Supreme Court decision that allowed a government to impose a knowledge test for approval to purchase a firearm. Why not also make voters pass an exam on politics before they vote?

c. If the applicant is successful on the test, s(he) must pay registration fees and submit to fingerprinting. MPD will file one set of fingerprints and submit the other to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for analysis and criminal background check.

Another trip back to the station. Inconvenience after inconvenience, not to mention the loss of privacy involved in exercising a Constitutional right.

d. MPD will notify the applicant whether all registration requirements are satisfied. At that point, the applicant returns to the Firearms Registration Section to complete the process and receive MPD’s seal on the application.

Trip number three to the station. How many regular Joes are going to be able to take this much time off of work to keep trudging back and forth from the bureaucrats? After all of these fees are submitted, the government can't spare one stamp to mail the approval document? Apparently not.

e. The applicant takes his or her completed application to a licensed firearm dealer to take delivery of the pistol. If the dealer is outside the District, the dealer transports the pistol to a licensed dealer in the District to complete the transaction.

This is the most insidious "requirement". Since there are currently no licensed dealers in Washington, how is this transaction possibly going to take place, in or out of the city?

Assuming it magically does, we're finally done. Right? Nope.

f. The applicant takes the pistol to the Firearms Registration Section for ballistics testing. When testing is complete, the applicant may retrieve the pistol and take it home.

Unbelievable. A fourth trip to officialdom. Also, how long is this ballistics testing supposed to take? Weeks? Months? "I'm sorry, sir, we can't seem to find your application. You'll have to start all over again. By the way, we're about one year out on firearms testing, so don't get too excited."

The proposed legislation from Mayor Fenty and the clowns on the City Council basically seeks to codify these "emergency" requirements into "permanent" ones, and stupidly adds one more rule that the Supreme Court specifically shot down:

"Clarifies the safe-storage and trigger-lock requirements. The legislation modifies existing law to clarify that firearms in the home must be stored unloaded and either disassembled secured with a trigger lock, gun safe, or similar device. An exception is made for a firearm while it is being used against reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm to a person within a registered gun owner’s home." (Emphasis mine)

It's kind of difficult to ask an intruder to wait while a firearm is unlocked and/or assembled, which is why the Court ruled that that was an unfair burden for a firearm owner to bear. A gun that is immediately available against a threat by definition cannot be unloaded or tucked away in a gun safe, which is why this law will be struck down as soon as it is passed. It's just too similar to the old one. Of course, that doesn't make any difference to the legislators, as they're only looking for any excuse to delay allowing homeowners to defend themselves.

One thing's for sure - pro-gun rights attorneys in the D.C. area will have no shortage of billable hours coming up in the foreseeable future. I wonder if the good citizens of the city care to know exactly how much of their money is being spent on these doomed schemes?

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