In the case of Heller vs. D.C., the district’s handgun ban was determined to be unconstitutional, that common classes of firearms cannot be banned–a fact that the Court needs to remember when it comes to assault weapons–and thus ending the long nightmare for residents. It also did wonders for many people throughout the country, giving them hope that our rights will be protected by the Court.
However, it seems police in the district have figured out a new way to ban guns.
They’re not technically banning them, mind you, but what they’re doing is amounts to just about the same thing.
In an arrangement unique to Washington, D.C., the local police department is the only federally licensed firearms dealer that is open to the public. Residents tell the Washington Free Beacon, however, that legally obtaining a handgun has become nearly impossible due to the department’s inaction.
The city faced a dilemma in mid-March when the only licensed dealer accepting public transfer requests abruptly closed shop. Federal law requires handguns that are transported across state lines to be shipped to a licensed dealer (FFL). With no gun stores in city limits, the Metropolitan Police Department obtained its own license to process transfers, but residents say that the agency is hindering their ability to legally obtain firearms.
“I have two sellers attempting to send firearms to the police department and neither of them have been able to get a response in close to two weeks,” Elby Godwin, a real estate agent and longtime D.C. resident who purchased two handguns back on March 24, told the Free Beacon. “It is hard to tell at this point if MPD is even processing transfers.”
The roadblocks the residents have run into have created what one expert described as a “legally dangerous” situation for the nation’s capital. The city has been the subject of a string of successful Second Amendment lawsuits over its strict gun laws in recent years, including the Supreme Court’s landmark Heller decision in 2008, which struck down the city’s total ban on handgun ownership. The lack of either a gun store or public range within city limits has remained a sticking point for many gun-rights activists, and some experts say the department’s failure to adequately process transfers could open the door to another legal battle.
“My sense is that the District chose this approach to avoid a possible constitutional challenge. It is a ‘cover your a—’ move,” Professor Josh Blackman, who teaches constitutional law at the South Texas College of Law, told the Free Beacon. “If MPD is the sole [licensed dealer] in D.C., then arguably refusing to respond to [handgun transfer] attempts may have Second Amendment problems.”
I tend to agree.
You see, the legality of owning a gun is pretty well meaningless if you can’t actually acquire a firearm. Sure, you can own one…if you can figure out some way to buy one, which you can’t do because the police department won’t process the transfer.
Now, sure, it’s possible they’re just slow as Christmas about this kind of thing and in way over their head on this, but that doesn’t exactly make it all better. The results are the same. People are going weeks and weeks without their firearms and during that time, they’re disarmed and at risk for becoming victims of horrible, unspeakable crimes.
How many people will need to die because they couldn’t get their firearm in a timely manner before the MPD decides to step up and do the job they agreed to by becoming an FFL?
Frankly, I’m not going to hold my breath while waiting for them to do it.
Tom Knighton is a Navy veteran, a former newspaperman, a novelist, and a blogger and lifetime shooter. He lives with his family in Southwest Georgia. He’s also the host of Unloaded TV on YouTube. https://bearingarms.com/author/tomknighton/