I’ve been following the trails and travails of Washington Times Senior Opinion Page Editor Emily Miller over past several months as she’s navigated her way through Washington D.C.’s ridiculously complex guns laws.
Ms. Miller decided to buy a gun after she was the victim of a home invasion while dog and house sitting for friends in 2010:
I want a gun. I don’t feel safe living in Washington, D.C. and want to protect myself. I’m starting today by going down to City Hall to find the gun permit office to tell them, “I want a gun.” This series will follow me as I navigate the city bureaucracy and outdated rules in order to legally buy a firearm.
My desire for a gun started when I had to face down over a dozen criminals on an empty cul de sac in Washington, D.C., armed only with a Blackberry.
It was New Year’s Day 2010, and I’d been staying in the house to dog sit for friends who were on vacation. I’d returned from walking the dog when I saw a man coming from the house. “What are you doing?” I asked, sensing something was off with the situation. The Golden Retriever just stood next to me with a slack leash.
“We’re here to clean the pool,” the man said. He looked nervous and his eyes were blood-shot.
I was pretty sure my friends hadn’t called in a swimming pool emergency during the middle of winter. “No, we didn’t call for you,” I said.
“Oh, then it must be the house next door,” he said, smiling nervously. He turned and walked away quickly.
I’d left the front door unlocked since I was walking the dog for less than ten minutes. (I know, lesson learned.) After the man left, I was still suspicious so I went inside, grabbed my Blackberry and clicked on the icon for the camera. I walked down the street, and as I turned the corner, I saw about 15 scruffy young men standing around two pickup trucks. We were at the end of a woody, dead-end road.
I nervously held up my Blackberry to take a quick photo of them and the license plates. Suddenly, the blood-shot-eyed guy darted out, blocking the shot. “What are you doing?” he asked. I looked around at all the men staring at me and was suddenly scared. “Nothing, I’m um, just going now,” I said as I put my Blackberry down instead of taking the picture around him and went home.
To me the single most striking thing about Ms. Miller’s experience, is that the process just to buy and register a pistol in our nation’s capitol is virtually identical to the process for obtaining concealed carry permit in most other jurisdictions. There’s simply no logical reason for making it that difficult just to legally purchase a firearm for home defense.
I’m all for reasonable restrictions like background checks or waiting periods, but forcing someone to go through a complex multi-step process, that takes months to complete and is virtually identical to the one for obtaining a concealed carry permit almost anywhere else is insane. The only reason for it to discourage law-abiding citizens from exercising their Constitutionally protected rights… And let me clear about this, this isn’t simply a second amendment issue, everyone one of us has a God-given right to feel safe in our own home and to protect ourselves, our families and our property from those who would do us harm. There’s an old cliché to says when seconds count, the police are only minutes away… It’s true.
Iif you live in densely populated urban area the average response time to a 911 call is around 7 minutes… But in rural areas it can often take 20 minutes or more for police to arrive.
Anyway, Ms. Miller recently reached something of milestone in her quest to legally obtain a handgun: She put down her money and ordered a Sig Sauer P229 in 9mm. Now all she has to do is jump through a few more hoops before she can legally take possession of her pistol:
And, that is the “but” in this story. Although I have paid and ordered the gun, I can’t take possession of it until it is transferred to Mr. Sykes, and I get an approved registration certificate.
In order to get this certificate, I still have to do the following: take a written test on the city’s firearm laws; get Mr. Sykes to fill out the application form; have the eligibility form notarized; get two passport photos and prove that my eyesight is better or equal to the driver’s license requirement (20/70 in best eye and field of vision of at least 140 degrees).
Next, I have to take all the forms to the registry office; pay $60 in fees; wait five days for the application to be approved; wait an additional five days for Mr. Sykes to be able to release my gun; and take the gun to the police for a ballistics test.
Finally, if I pass all of these steps, I should be able to take possession of the gun that I already bought.
The sad truth is, Washington D.C. is one of America’s most violent cities. The district’s arcane, restrictive gun laws haven’t made anyone safer, in fact one could argue that all the district’s decades old de facto gun ban has accomplished is to insure that criminals have a largely defenseless population to prey upon.