The D.C. Gun Registry office is not where you go for help getting a legal gun; it’s where you go to get more confused by bureaucracy.
After going thorough the magnetometers at D.C Police headquarters on Wednesday, the first door I saw said “GUN REGISTRY.” That was easy, I thought.
I went through the glass doors and entered a narrow office with a desk in front manned by a single female unformed police officer.
“I’m here to get a gun,” I told her. I was the only one there. Her name tag said “D.A. Brown.”
“You want to register your gun?” Officer Brown asked.
“No, no, I don’t have a gun yet. I mean I’m here to get a gun permit,” I said.
“This is D.C., you can’t get a gun permit. You can’t be carrying a gun around with you. It’s for home protection,” she said. I was totally confused. I asked what was the difference. “You can’t carry it around like I do,” she said, pointing at the gun in her holster. “You can’t get a license. You can buy a gun and register it.”
She started putting piles of paper on the desk between us. “Here’s everything you need to know,” she said. “You fill out this form. This one has a trick question so be careful. This one you give to Sykes.”
“What do I do first?” I asked picking up all the papers.
“You get a gun and then get it registered,” she said.
“Oh, okay, well where do I go to buy the gun?” I asked.
The officer seemed very annoyed with my questions. “You can go to any licensed dealer in another state or on the internet,” she said. “But you can only get a gun on the DC approved list.”
“Where do I see the list? And can I get any gun?”
“You can get a Glock if that’s what you want,” she said. I’d heard of a Glock on TV. “You just buy it. Then give the form to Charles Sykes downstairs and he’ll go pick it up for you and transfer it. And if you get a semi-automatic, you can only get a 10-round magazine.”
“A ten what?”
“Magazine, magazine, where the ammunition is,” she said, clearly tired of the question. “Look it’s all in the packet here. I’m only telling you these things to help you, but you need to go through the packet.”
I thanked her and sat outside her door for a while to go through the piles of paper. A few minutes later, Officer Brown came out and handed me another piece of paper. “Here, you need to take a safety class, these people teach them. It’s all in your packet but here are some names.”
I added the paper to the pile and kept reading. In all the time I was there, only one other person came into the office. It seems there is no rush in Washington to register legal guns. At 3:15pm, she walked briskly out of the office, carrying a large black folder. She locked the door and posted a sign that said: “OUT OF OFFICE BE BACK SHORTLY.”
Since I still didn’t know what to do next, I set out to find the one man in Washington who can actually get me a gun, Charles Sykes. His company was not housed inside the government building.
Up next in the series: D.C.’s Only Gun Source
“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 on Twitter @EmilyMiller.