The city is making a tidy profit from forcing everyone to reregister. The fees, set in 2003, go to a general fund. It costs $13 for each gun registered. For renewals, the cost is the same, but it is per person, not per firearm.
In addition, gun owners pay $35 for electronic fingerprinting for an FBI background check.
While there is no charge for a NICS check, the FBI’s fingerprint background check for a civilian is $18. This means D.C. is essentially charging a total $30 gun tax.
Multiply that times the minimum 30,000 registrants and the city is raking in about a cool $1 million from gun owners. No other right in the Constitutional comes with a cash payment.
“Requiring registration in the first place to exercise a constitutional right is harassment enough,” Stephen Halbrook, the lead attorney of Heller II, told me.
“Canceling the registration every three years and charging the equivalent of a poll tax to reregister, and requiring citizens to be fingerprinted yet again, adds insult to injury. Criminals in the sex-offender registration system aren’t even subjected to that.”
The schedule for going to police headquarters is somewhat confusing. Registrants are given two-month windows that are loosely aligned to their birth dates. However, Kelly O’Meara, one of Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s top deputies, said they decided to spread the renewals over a two-year period to avoid long waits.
As a result, the months don’t match up exactly. For example, if you are born between Feb. 16 and March 31, your renewal period is April 1 to June 30 this year. Firearms owners are not allowed to go to the Firearms Registration Section at any other time.
I asked Ms. Meara what happens if a gun owner comes in early. “We probably would not turn them away,” she said. “We just won’t encourage it by saying we are open to it.”
The District started registering long guns (rifles and shotguns) in 1976 after issuing a complete ban on handguns. In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned the handgun ban in the landmark Heller decision.
Afterwards, the D.C. Council passed the most restrictive gun-control laws in the nation in an attempt to dissuade people from exercising their newly recovered right.
The purported purpose of reregistration is to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. However, the District’s own witnesses in the Heller II depositions “cite no studies showing that periodic registration renewal or reporting requirements reduce crime or protect police officers.”
While the police are forced to put tens of thousands of innocent people through a reregistration process, the actual criminals are having a field day in D.C.
Homicides were up 15 percent in 2013 over 2012. Robberies with a gun rose 4 percent.
The police should be going after the bad guys and not wasting time on those of us who are exercising our Second Amendment rights and abiding by the law.