- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Mayor Adrian Fenty yesterday proposed regulations for gun ownership rife with inconsistencies, unenforcable requirements and policies proven to be ineffective. It is clear that the D.C. Council has no intention of taking a reasonable track toward responsible gun ownership. Seemingly, City Hall intends to make it as difficult as possible for law-abiding citizens to own a gun.

Proposals include potential gun owners taking a firearms test. But it is terribly inconsistent and disingenuous to have them do so in order to obtain an application to purchase a gun when the city offers no safety courses. Owning a gun should bring the same responsible requirements as driving a motor vehicle - a written test in tandem with a required operational safety test. But the mayor and the council are working to set residents up to fail from the outset.

Then there is the ballistic imprint. Council members today are scheduled to hold a hearing on the mayor’s plan - and they should definitely scrap the ballistic imprint, or gun fingerprinting, requirement. As we said July 9, the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division issued a January 2005 report that said the state’s gun fingerprint policy was ineffective in helping solve crimes. It would be foolish for the city to adopt a policy that cost Marylanders more than $2.5 million when it has already been found to be worthless.

Another issue is the registration itself. The council should require a time limit for the D.C. police to issue registrations, rather than leave open the possibility of residents waiting indefinitely to receive them. The worst requirement of the emergency legislation: “The applicant takes his or her completed application to a licensed firearm dealer to take delivery of the pistol. If the dealer is outside the District, the dealer transports the pistol to a licensed dealer in the District to complete the transaction.” The hitch? There are no licensed gun dealers in the District.

As for unenforceable requirements: Any notion that the city is going to be able to enforce a requirement that guns in the home be unloaded, under lock and key and with a trigger lock engaged is laughable. It is equally amusing to think of police officers arriving at the home of some resident who happens to shoot an intruder pressing the homeowner as to how they got the drop on the thief when they had to take the gun out of its case and remove the trigger lock with the criminal being unaware. If the resident explains that the gun was loaded and ready to fire, are they going to be prosecuted for being prepared?

This emergency legislation is necessary because the city’s handgun laws were among the strictest in the nation and the Supreme Court struck them down. But City Hall remains in anti-gun mode. The council should make the regulations as simple and sensible as possible. The occupants of City Hall must remember that the intent of the legislation is to abide by the Constitution on behalf of law-abiding citizens. The motor-vehicles model isn’t perfect (no bureaucracy is); but it is a reasonable place to start.

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