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Thread: After DC gun ban overturned, city seeks new rules [enforces old] The Washington Times

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    Jul 5 09:22 PM US/Eastern By BRIAN WESTLEY Associated Press Writer

    Dale Metta, who manages a gun shop just outside the District of Columbia limits in Maryland, has had to turn away dozens of city residents wanting to buy handguns in recent days. Never mind that the U.S. Supreme Court just struck down Washington's 32-year-old ban on possessing handguns.

    "I'd like to sell anything I have," said Metta. But he won't just yet—not until the city draws up new regulations.

    The Supreme Court's decision June 26 rebuffed the strictest gun law in the nation.

    The National Rifle Association called it "a great moment in American history." But prospective gun buyers and sellers said they remain on hold, awaiting the response of D.C. officials who are scrambling to draft new handgun regulations that comply with the court ruling.

    "There's nothing we can do until we know what they will do," Metta said.

    Metta, manager of Atlantic Guns in Silver Spring, Md., said his store fielded about 75 calls from D.C. residents after the ruling. Other gun shops outside the city—which has no shops of its own—also received calls. They, too, were turning prospective buyers away.

    Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said: "We hold that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."

    Washington's gun ban took effect in 1976 and essentially outlawed private ownership of handguns in a city struggling with violence.

    In 1974, two years before the ban took effect, more than half of all homicides were committed with handguns. But what impact the ban has had on crime has long been debated, particularly after homicides more than doubled during a crack epidemic in the late 1980s and early 90s.

    Supporters of the ban lamented the court ruling, but vowed to maintain the strictest handgun measures allowed.

    "The Supreme Court's decision last week was regrettable; nonetheless, it is the law of the land," D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson said. He introduced legislation Tuesday to repeal the handgun ban and propose new requirements.

    Besides banning handguns, D.C. law required that rifles and shotguns be kept unloaded and disassembled, or equipped with trigger locks—restrictions Mendelson's bill would still retain. But, bowing to the high court, he offered a broad exemption for guns kept at home for "immediate self-defense."

    Gun rights advocates called the bill's wording too narrow, questioning how someone would interpret an immediate need for protection.

    "That's a troublesome approach," said John Snyder, of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He accused the city of trying to make it "as difficult as possible for people to defend themselves."

    Mendelson's bill also would require a ballistics record for handguns and a waiting period for registration to be determined by the police chief.

    Critics, meanwhile, charged the proposal doesn't address the city's unusual regulation of machine guns, which D.C. defines as weapons that shoot at least 12 rounds without reloading. That restriction applies to many popular semiautomatic firearms.

    It remains uncertain how quickly the D.C. Council will move to enact new regulations. Mendelson said, if needed, he will propose emergency action July 15, before the group's summer recess starts.

    The city's ban was to remain in effect at least three weeks after the Supreme Court's ruling, until a lower court issues an injunction. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration also is drafting new regulations.

    Many are waiting anxiously.

    Allan Lucas, a licensed firearms instructor in D.C., is among those concerned about how new regulations will affect him.

    He has been trying for two years to open an indoor shooting range in the city to train security guards and other clients. Because the city currently has no zoning category for such a business, he takes his clients to ranges in the suburbs.

    "It's pretty ridiculous to think of so many people qualifying to register for firearms and not having a range to practice on," he said.

    John McRae, who has lived in Washington for 40 of his 64 years, is among those thinking of buying a gun once the rules are settled. He said he wants to protect himself from armed criminals.

    "If they come into my house, I can't use a broomstick," McRae said.

    Guns still elusive for D.C. residents Those looking to buy firearms after the Supreme Court ruling against the District of Columbia's gun ban are out of luck. Purchasing regulations have yet to be written. By Vimal Patel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    July 5, 2008 WASHINGTON -- Days after the Supreme Court ruled that residents of the nation's capital can keep handguns at home for self-defense, George Harley walked out of a Maryland gun shop disheartened, his goal of legally having a gun to protect his family put on hold.

    Since before Harley, 30, was born, the District of Columbia has restricted its residents' ownership of handguns. After the high court's ruling was handed down late last month, Harley was one of several dozen Washington residents who came to the Atlantic Guns shop in Silver Spring, Md., just over the district line, to ask about buying a gun.

    They were all told the same thing: Go home.

    "Presently, there's no change to anything," said Atlantic Guns owner Stephen Schneider. "There's no procedure in place for them to purchase a handgun because regulations haven't been written."

    Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has vowed to have the strictest gun laws possible, and the city's plans for the registration process, expected to be released in about two weeks, is being closely watched.

    "If the mayor was smart, he would have kept his mouth shut," said Deborah Curtis, co-owner and general manager of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Va., referring to Fenty's vocal support of strict regulations. "It just got people up in arms. He should have just let it play out."

    On Tuesday, District of Columbia Council member Phil Mendelson introduced legislation to put the city in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling by allowing residents to have handguns in their homes for self-defense. Under normal circumstances, the bill, which has unanimous support, would be voted on in September, after the council returns from a summer break, but action could come sooner if emergency legislation is introduced, said Jason J. Shedlock, an aide to Mendelson. The council's last session before the recess is July 15.

    Even after guidelines are finalized, though, it's unclear how long it will take for Washingtonians to legally have handguns in their homes.

    For instance, the federal ban on the transport of firearms across state lines means that gun shops outside the district could sell to a city resident, but the buyer could not leave the store with a weapon. The seller would have to transfer the gun to a federally licensed dealer in Washington, and the buyer would pick it up there. But there are no federally licensed gun shops in the district, police said.

    Nor does there appear to be a rush by gun dealers to open a shop in the city. The firearms registration section of the Metropolitan Police Department has received only a trickle of inquiries. As of Thursday afternoon, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the first contact for anyone wanting to open a gun shop, had received no applications, said Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the Washington field division.

    If city officials "were to impose regulations [for opening gun shops] that imposed bureaucratic hurdles, they would face legal battles," said Robert A. Levy, a constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute, a libertarian policy research center. Levy recruited the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case and served as co-counsel. "If we find that those requirements are too burdensome, it would be a . . . violation of the court's ruling."

    Curtis, whose gun shop is about 30 miles west of the Capitol, said she wouldn't consider opening a store in Washington. "For the average gun shop owner, you're not going to get rich selling," she said. "We don't live like that Nicholas Cage movie, 'Lord of War' " -- the story of an illegal arms dealer.

    Bernie Conatser, owner of Virginia Arms Co. in Manassas, Va., said he watched the Supreme Court decision closely, but not strictly for business reasons.

    "I don't think we had anything to gain from a financial perspective, at least in the short term," he said. "But the decision will have a far-reaching impact on 2nd Amendment rights."

    The Supreme Court ruling has intensified a long-standing debate in the city, which battled a high crime rate both before and after the 1976 gun ban took effect. Last year, 181 homicides were recorded, a significant decline that came amid a national decrease in violent crime.

    Harley, who lives in northeast Washington, just inside the district, said he wouldn't describe himself as a gun enthusiast. If he really wanted a gun, he said, he would be living a mile away in Maryland.

    But he said he remembers when the city was dubbed the "murder capital" in the early 1990s.

    He reads the newspaper daily, he said, and hears about home-invasion robberies. And if something like that happens in his home, he said, he wants the security of a firearm to protect his wife and his 5-year-old daughter.

    "Sit and wait," he said. "That's all we can do."

    As he walked his dog in the Dupont Circle neighborhood Tuesday evening, another city resident, Costa Tsantalis said that he once opposed the gun ban -- but that was before he was a police officer in Norfolk, Va.

    "I used to say, 'We should let the good guys have them, too,' " Tsantalis said as his Rhodesian ridgeback-pit bull mix eyed a squirrel. "But just seeing the staggering stupidity of people and their inability to control themselves, even good people, changed my mind."

    Still, he said, he wants to buy a handgun for self-defense as soon as the law allows.

  2. #2
    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    Newport News, Virginia, USA

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    D.C. Residents: Go live in N.H. forthe summer. While enjoying Gods Country buy yourself some handguns. Open Carry them.If you decide to live in D.C again, bring your guns with you.

    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitableand let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come . PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    LOL @ their definition of "machine gun". What's going to be even better than the ruling is afew years from now when crime has dropped noticably. That'll make the anti-gun politicians look pretty stupid.

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    Founder's Club Member Tess's Avatar
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    AWDstylez wrote:
    LOL @ their definition of "machine gun". What's going to be even better than the ruling is afew years from now when crime has dropped noticably. That'll make the anti-gun politicians look pretty stupid.
    I don't argue your first statement.

    But I don't think this ruling will help crime noticeably in DC, either.

    This permits handguns in the home. That's all. If you look at the shootings in DC over the past six months, you'll find very few where a shooting happened in the home. There seems to be two categories of handgun crime in DC -- retribution shootings (drive-by included, where someone "dissed" someone else and the poor, hapless victim of an insult believed gunfire was the answer), and shootings ancillary to another crime, like robbery, rape, etc.

    Of course, this is not all, and the info I have is not exhaustive (I haven't reviewed the DC police files, for example).

    Still, I believe the only category you may see drop is the home-invasion category, which I believe to be small in the first place.
    Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population. -Albert Einstein

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    Tess wrote:
    This permits handguns in the home. That's all.

    I stand corrected. I had thought it permited carry as well. Seeing as how it doesn't, I'd have to agree with you about the lack of crime drop.

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    From the Washington Times article on the front page with Stollenwerk. It states this:

    Mr. Mendelson introduced a bare-bones bill Tuesday that would allow residents to register handguns and remove home storage provisions that require guns to be disassembled or have trigger locks, the two main issues affected by the ruling.
    Mr. Nickles on Monday sent a letter to Mr. Mendelson, asking that the council not take action regarding handgun regulations until Metropolitan Police Department draft legislation is submitted at a legislative hearing July 15.

    The police are drafting legislation? Why are the police drafting legislation? What is DC, a police state? Oh, wait, it is.

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