- - Thursday, January 9, 2014

Emily Miller’s column, “Gun reregistration begins in D.C., may lead to arrest and confiscation” (Commentary, Jan. 1), contained numerous factual errors about the firearms-registration process and faulty conclusions about the District’s crime rates.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s Heller decision in 2008, approximately 30,000 firearms were registered to some 18,000 individuals; since Heller, an additional 4,100 firearms have been registered.

Registration of firearms registered before Jan. 1, 2011, must be renewed over the next two years, and the Metropolitan Police Department has created a simple, streamlined process for doing so.

Each registered firearms owner will be mailed a notice from the Metropolitan Police Department giving him or her a specific three-month window to renew their registration. This schedule was published in the D.C. Register, as is required by law, and is available on the Metropolitan Police Department website (mpdc.dc.gov/gunregistrationrenewal). The Metropolitan Police Department also opted to publish notice in The Washington Times, which was not required by the law, and may publish additional notices in newspapers or other outlets.

The first mailing of almost 2,800 letters was sent on Dec. 30, 2013, and several registrants have already come in to renew their registrations.

By offering evening appointment hours in addition to regular business hours, the Metropolitan Police Department has made it as convenient as possible to come in, complete a one-page form, be photographed, and submit fingerprints for a criminal-background check.

Contrary to Miss Miller’s assertion that the $48 registration-renewal fee is any sort of “gun tax,” the fees charged simply cover the costs of administering the firearms-registration program and, more importantly, these fees have remained unchanged for more than a decade.

Miss Miller also misrepresents the consequences for not renewing a firearms registration.

Gun owners are given a specific 90-day window to renew. They are also given an additional 30-day grace period. If they fail to renew by the end of that 120-day period, they would pay a nominal penalty of $13 when they come in to renew.

If gun owners fail to renew 90 days after the end of the end of the three-month window, their registration will be canceled, and they will have to reapply for a gun registration without the benefit of grandfathering the type of firearm they have.

So, before a registration is canceled, a firearms owner will have six months to come in to renew his registration. It is possible that a firearm initially registered in the past 35 years is no longer eligible to be registered, but it is not automatically disqualified as Miss Miller wrote, and an owner can avoid this risk by coming in within their prescribed six-month window for renewal. This provides some context to the column’s condensed and selective interpretation.

Finally, Miss Miller makes the utterly baseless claim that criminals are “having a field day” in the District.

Homicides in 2013 did indeed increase compared with 2012. However, 12 of those killings were committed by a single deranged individual at the Navy Yard. Once that mass killing at a highly secure military base is factored in, the number of homicides in the District increased by a total of four from the previous year, and still represents a 50 percent reduction from 2008.

At the same time, the District also saw robberies fall by 5 percent, burglaries drop by 9 percent, and car thefts fall 7 percent. These actual statistics, instead of baseless assertions, clearly demonstrate the District continues to make significant progress in protecting the safety of its residents, visitors and businesses.

If The Washington Times is genuinely interested in supporting gun owners, it should provide them with accurate information so they can be in compliance with D.C. law.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington