Thursday, 23 October 2014

D.C. Accused of Backdoor Gun Control

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Critics assert that the new concealed carry gun laws in the District of Columbia amount to nothing more than backdoor gun control. According to the new requirements, gun owners seeking permits must complete 18 hours of firearms training, but no instructors have been approved to teach the course.

The Washington Times notes, “The disparity is emblematic of the city’s reluctant scramble to comply with the July order that overturned the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public.”

Earlier this year, Judge Frederick Scullin ruled that D.C.’s ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional after several gun owners tried to obtain permits but were denied. Scullin ultimately determined that the ban was a violation of Second Amendment rights.

Scullin pointed to previous rulings pertaining to gun laws in cities such as Chicago, writing, “There is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

The ruling came six years after the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision overruled D.C.’s total ban on owning a handgun.

In response to Scullin’s ruling, the D.C.’s Office of Attorney General requested a stay on the ruling, which the judge granted for 90 days, expiring on October 22.

Just hours before the stay was set to expire, the D.C. Police Department released the concealed carry applications on its website.

But officials with the department say that the solicitation for firearms instructors for the course was not issued until Monday, which will include 16 hours of classroom safety instruction and two hours of proficiency training.

George Lyon, a firearms instructor who was one of the gun owners involved in the court case that overturned the D.C. gun ban, believes that the steep cost of $435 to apply for certification will likely discourage people from applying.

“This is another example of them making the process as difficult and expensive as possible,” Lyon asserted. Of course, the hefty expense will negatively impact some of than others: low-equal D.C. residents will be less able to afford to protect themselves via a firearm than the weathy.

Further, D.C. has not yet appointed members to the Concealed Pistol Licensing Review Board, which is expected to hear appeals from gun owners who are denied permits.

“The mayor and other appointing officials have been actively assembling the review board, and its members will be announced very soon,” said Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Mayor Vincent Gray. “The panel will be in place when it is needed.” The police department estimates that the process for obtaining a concealed carry permit in D.C. will take from 60 to 90 days.

Lawmakers believe that hundreds of people will qualify for the concealed carry permits. But gun owners are criticizing the regulations released on Wednesday that allow Police Chief Cathy Lanier to “limit the geographic area, circumstances, or times of the day, week, month, or year in which a license is valid or effective.” Believing the stipulation to be restrictive, Alan Gura, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in Palmer v. District of Columbia, has already filed a motion asking the judge to block implementation of the law. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.

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