The D.C. City Council is working on legislation this month that could ease some of the gun restrictions in the nation’s capital.
While my ultimate goal is to end D.C.’s firearms registration law, I understand the limitations of dealing with a liberal council. My hope is that my personal experience as documented in the “Emily Gets Her Gun” series will help make the current registration process easier for other residents.
After testifying before the council’s Judiciary Committee two weeks ago, I submitted a lengthy written testimony to Chairman Phil Mendelson, Democrat at-large, which included my proposed changes to the gun registration process to make it less time-consuming and expensive.
Here are my recommendations to the City Council for amending the Firearms Amendment Act (Bill 19-614):
1.) Eliminate the firearm safety class requirement: As Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy Lanier testified, this course is not necessary and not required in other jurisdictions. As I testified, the class is extremely expensive, difficult to find an instructor and not safe for a woman alone.
2.) Eliminate the written test: This test only proves the resident has memorized obscure gun laws from the registration packet. It serves no real purpose.
3.) Do not require notary public: The eligibility form requires notarization, which is an added expense. The signature of an honest citizen should be enough. If it’s not, then a registry office staff should serve as the notary so the resident doesn’t incur the cost.
4.) Be transparent about costs: The registration packet misleadingly cites $60 in fees, but it should reference the estimated $225 cost of the safety class (if not eliminated) and the necessary $125 gun transfer fee. Residents need to be aware of the full cost of fees before deciding if they can afford to register a gun.
5.) Provide information on gun transfers: Nowhere in the registration packet does it explain that Charles Sykes is the only legal gun dealer in the city and necessary for buying a gun. The real process should be provided in writing along with his contact information.
6.) Implement electronic filing: The application and forms should be available online and easy to file electronically. Residents are required to go to the registry office at least twice: once to take the test and hand in the forms, then again to pick up the registration certificate and get a ballistics test. Removing the in-person requirement for submitting forms would help not to take off another day of work
7.) Eliminate the re-registration and repeated fingerprinting requirement: The MPD is currently unable to properly administer the re-registration requirement so citizens are going to the office to attempt to keep to the law. The law already dictates that a gun owner has to notify the registry office with a change of address or gun sale, so the registration does not change otherwise. A person’s fingerprints do not change.
Next in the series: Transporting a Gun Through D.C.
“Emily Gets Her Gun” is a series following senior editor Emily Miller as she tries to legally get her hands on a gun in the nation’s capital. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.