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D.C. will revisit gun law for outsiders
Some unaware of crossing the line
Mr. Hogue said he thinks his life will return to normal only if he is able to get his conviction overturned.
That is an uphill battle, said gun rights activists whom he has approached to review his case.
Dave Workman, a spokesman with the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights advocacy group based in Bellevue, Wash., said it can be difficult keeping abreast of the District’s complicated and evolving gun laws since the city’s near total ban on handguns was overturned in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case. Non-D.C. residents can get tripped up easily, he said, but federal law should provide protection for people who transport guns through different jurisdictions.
“Under federal law, if you’re going from point A to point B through a jurisdiction, you’re supposed to have some protection from local laws about firearms in your vehicle,” Mr. Workman said, citing the federal Firearms Owners’ Protection Act. “Still, he got lost. He wound up on the wrong side of an imaginary line. That shouldn’t be a crime.”
It isn’t known whether Mr. Mendelson’s bill would have changed the outcome of Mr. Hogue’s case, and the bill’s enactment remains uncertain. The bill attracted no co-sponsors on the council and has met resistance from those who say that administrative dispositions ordinarily are reserved for less-serious crimes, such as when protesters are arrested in the city.
The problem of non-D.C. residents getting stopped while transporting legal weapons through the city does not appear to be widespread but has raised concerns because of the potential consequences. Such cases are handled by the attorney general’s office, which can offer deferred sentencing to those who are charged. That option allows for charges to be dropped after a period of time if those charged follow court-ordered stipulations. The attorney general’s office is expected to provide testimony at Monday’s hearing. Others include gun rights activists and Dick Heller, the lead plaintiff in the case that went to the Supreme Court and ended the city’s gun ban.
Any perception of loosening of firearms regulations is a sensitive topic in the District, which is plagued by gun violence. But the bill could make some city laws more consistent with those in neighboring states.
“It appears to me that there is a trend for them to really try to streamline these laws and try to get them more in line with those in other states,” said Thomas McKiddie, projects director with the Second Amendment Foundation.
Mr. McKiddie said prosecuting people such as Mr. Hogue under the current law doesn’t serve any purpose.
“There’s not really any justice out of that,” he said. “It just really doesn’t serve any public need turning him into a pseudo-criminal.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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