The right to keep and bear arms only applies to certain people in the nation’s capital. One of the 17 steps that I still have in order to register a gun in Washington, D.C. is filing out a “Statement of Eligibility.” The form contains 10 yes-or-no questions intended to weed out those ineligible to legally possess a pistol.
Some of the barriers to gun ownership are expected. It’s easy to choose ‘no’ for: conviction (or indictment) of a violent crime or weapons offense; conviction in the past five years of serious drug charge, assault, threat to do bodily harm; acquitted of a criminal charge by reason of insanity or alcoholism; or committed to a mental hospital in the past five years.
The five-year limit makes me wonder. Can Marion Barry — the former D.C. mayor and current councilman — register a gun? He was charged with smoking crack cocaine. But the conviction was just a misdemeanor and 20 years ago, so he’s in the clear.
Moving on: “Do you suffer from any physical defect which makes it unsafe for you to possess and use a firearm safely and responsibly?” What about a bad knee from running? Long hair? What about being only 5’2” tall? I checked off ‘no.’
Number 7: “Have you ever been found negligent in any firearm related mishap causing death or injury to another human being?” Since I have never owned a gun, this one was easy.
But I wondered if this meant that you could shoot yourself in the foot and still get a gun? Plaxico Burress would benefit from this wording.
The next qualification makes it clear that D.C. doesn’t want to give guns to non-violent but seedy characters. If you’ve been convicted of prostitution or “operating a bawdy house”, which I Googled to learn means running a brothel. So the pimps can’t get guns, but the D.C. Madam may be allowed to bear arms since her conviction is outside the statute of limitations. (Correction: The D.C. Madam died in 2008.)
Also, if you’ve ever been convicted of “vagrancy”, you’re out of luck. I’m not sure why hanging around the 7-Eleven parking lot too long makes you unqualified to have a gun, but someone in the city government does.
I went back to Google to figure out what “abrogating strikes” means. I went through three page of search results, and I still don’t know. It’s something union-related so as a conservative, I’m sure I haven’t done it.
Straight check marks in the “no” column down the page. When I picked up the big packet of paperwork at the DC Firearms Registry, the police officer told me to be careful filling out the eligibility form because there was a “trick question” on it. I’ve reading the questions slowly to be sure that I could get to the next stage in this process.
Next question 9 asks, “Have you provided accurate and true facts on your application for a Firearms Registration Certificate?” Bingo! The trick question is found second to last. I check my first “yes”.
The last question was easy. I’ve never been in the military so not dishonorably discharged either.
I sign my name to affirm that I have given accurate information on the document. I’m about to check this off my to-do list when I read the bottom, which requires the signature of a notary public. Now my to-do list is back to 17 steps to do. They just keep putting up more walls to getting a legal handgun in D.C. I’m off to the bank to get this notarized so I can move on to the next form in the stack of paperwork.
Next up in the series: Learning to Shoot a Gun
“Emily Gets Her Gun” is a new series following senior editor Emily Miller as she legally tries to get her hands on a gun in the nation’s capital. You can also follow her quest on Twitter.