- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2009

It’s been a year since a Northwest D.C. housewife carried a Ruger .357 Magnum into police headquarters in a blue plastic grocery bag and became the District’s first legal handgun owner since the Supreme Court overturned a decades-old ban.

Today, Amy McVey’s handgun is one of just 515 that have been legally registered with the Metropolitan Police Department — a number that pales compared with more than 2,000 illegal weapons that have been seized in the same period.

She hasn’t had to use it to defend her home. Nor has anyone attempted to steal it and use it against her or to commit some other crime — undermining the most widely used arguments for and against permitting guns.

In fact, police say they have no information that would indicate any gun legally registered since July 17, 2008, has been fired by its owner in defense of life or property, or that one has been stolen or used in the commission of a crime.

“I just wanted to have the gun in my house for protection,” Mrs. McVey, 46, told The Washington Times on Thursday. She said she has taken her gun to Maryland for target practice — much as she did when she kept it stored outside the city before it was registered.

“No, I’ve never had to pull the gun to protect myself. There have been times I was startled — you hear things outside. Is it on your front porch? — but you assess the situation. There was no harm to me inside the house.”

Asked where she keeps it, she said simply: “I can get to it.”

Lynda Salvatore, 38, bought a Glock 21 to protect herself and her Columbia Heights home. Miss Salvatore, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office employee, bought the gun recently because she said she feels unsafe since she moved into her neighborhood three years ago.

“I mean, people are regularly shot within a three-block radius of me. I’ve seen three dead bodies on the streets since I moved here,” Miss Salvatore said.

“I’ve been harassed by kids on the street. … They’ll catcall after me and when I don’t answer them they call me white bitch and throw rocks at me.”

Miss Salvatore said she feels safer now that she has a gun.

During the year residents have been allowed to register guns, preliminary police statistics say violent crime and property crime have gone down citywide — a modest decline that even the most ardent gun rights advocate would have difficulty attributing to legal gun ownership. Police also say they have seized more than 2,000 illegal guns from D.C. streets in the last year.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said the fears of gun-control advocates — that having more guns would lead to increased gun violence — were unfounded.

“All the handgun bill people’s predictions have proved to be wrong,” Mr. LaPierre said.

The Supreme Court ruled in June 2008 that the city’s near-total ban on handguns was unconstitutional and that residents should be allowed to keep guns in their homes for personal protection.

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