Post-Heller D.C. Handgun Purchase: $500 Plus Gun and Test

For decades, southern states and local governments prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote by requiring them to take a written test. While the exam material was sound—based on a knowledge of American government—the process was inherently discriminatory. Lower income, relatively uneducated blacks didn’t have a hope in hell of making the grade. Not to mention the test fee, which placed an additional economic burden on those who could least afford it. Eventually, the courts struck down the system as a deeply cynical “end run.” Flash forward to post-Heller-decision D.C., where the Capitol City has erected new barriers to handgun ownership. And here we go again . . .

Once again, lower income, relatively uneducated African Americans are prevented from exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms by tests and fees. Not to mention the fact that D.C.’s ban on gun shop forces residents to leave the city to even try to buy a gun.

In the showroom, salesman Jack Donald can sell you a gun. But if you have a D.C. driver’s license, you’ll have to transfer the weapon to someone with a federal firearms license in D.C.

“He takes possession of the gun from us,” Donald says. “He charges a transfer fee — I believe it’s $125.”

Then the federal licensee gives your gun back to you. But you’re still not ready to go, Donald notes.

“You have to be fingerprinted, you have to submit photographs, you have to take a class that’s supposed to consist of four hours of classroom and an hour of range time with … a District of Columbia approved instructor,” he explains.

That can bring the cost of registering to more than $500. That’s a lot of work and expense, but people do it all the time . . . nearly 1,200 people have registered previously banned guns since the Supreme Court ruling two years ago.”

Trust NPR to imply that 1200 D.C. freshly-minted handgun owners as some kind mass movement. According to the latest U.S. census stats, the nation’s capitol is home to some 600,000 souls. Those 1200 guns buyers represent exactly .002 percent of the population.

I’ll leave John Lott to run the numbers (a comparison of gun ownership rates with a nearby urban center with less onerous handgun purchase laws). But simple common sense suggests more D.C. residents would like to own a handgun. But don’t. Because they can’t afford the time and money and face the hassle required by the government.

Oh look! The guy they found to represent the new breed of D.C. handgun owners (Glock and all) is a rich white guy in an upmarket neighborhood. Who’d a thunk it?

Just for S&Gs, how about a quick peak at the ethnicity of all those new D.C. handgun owners? The information is recorded. Why isn’t it revealed? Could it be that the vast majority of new D.C. handgun owners are white?

This ain’t over. Not by a long chalk.

The man who started the whole hullabaloo [ED: condescend much?], Richard Heller, says the current regulations make a mockery of the court’s decision. He’s challenging everything, from the cost of the whole procedure to the limit on high-capacity ammunition clips.

Heller argues that “it’s unconstitutional to be forced to pay fees to exercise your constitutional right,” and says the only reasonable restrictions prevent sales to felons, children and those with a history of mental illness.

A district court has upheld the D.C. process, but Heller is appealing.

We shall overcome, eh? Not with NPR’s help, obviously. Even when the publicly-funded media mavens [kinda] admit they were wrong about the wisdom of handgun bans, they “worry” that they’re right about the importance of gun control.

What’s happened to crime? Homicides were down in the first year after the ban ended. That’s too soon to declare a trend, but predictions of “blood on the streets” have not come to pass, either. Many gun foes here appear to have actually made peace with the ban on gun bans. Their biggest worry now is that Congress, which can overturn D.C. laws, keeps trying to nix the city’s remaining gun limits.

Heaven forfend.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

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