D.C. leaders propose concealed handgun permits
This past Wednesday, Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced an emergency bill that would allow District residents to apply for a license to carry concealed handguns outside the home. It will be considered at today’s legislative session, and, if passed, will go into effect after a month.
The bill is modeled after laws that currently exist in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. It will allow D.C. residents who own registered handguns and non-residents who have state-issued gun-carrying licenses to apply to District police for permits. The new law is being proposed after years of litigation targeting the city’s relatively strict gun laws.
Under these new regulations, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier would issue permits only to applicants who demonstrate a need to carry firearms due to a specific danger. Officials said that living in a high-crime neighborhood, for example, would not be a sufficient reason. Those who would be eligible to obtain a permit include people who have been victims of domestic violence or have received death threats.
Ever since the Supreme Court eliminated the city’s 32-year-old ban on handguns in 2008, the District has been enforcing strict requirements. These include the registration of firearms every three years, completion of a safety course, and fingerprintings, among others. The concealed-carry requirement that the D.C. Council is about to vote on would be even more restrictive. Applicants would need to complete a “more extensive” safety course than what is currently required, and the open carrying of firearms would remain illegal.
On the Wednesday that the emergency bill was announced, U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin also denied the city’s request for longer stay of the late-July ruling that did away with the District’s ban on carrying guns. Should the bill pass, however, it would become effective for 90 days immediately upon Gray’s signature. The police department would then have to issue regulations governing the permit process, which would take additional time, according to Mendelson. The permit applications could start being accepted within weeks.
Photo: Robert Nelson via flickr