Remember the Heller decision? DC’s handgun prohibition was blown to hell. So to speak. It was a great victory for gun rights. Right? Well, not so much. There’s still a de facto handgun ban in the nation’s capital. The District has strict transfer regulations for handguns that it doesn’t have for rifles and shotguns. Which is fine, except DC’s only transfer agent lost his lease and now can’t find a new location that’s in compliance with local zoning laws. And that’s just the way most DC politicians like it . . .
Charles Sykes was the District’s only FFL. His only business was processing firearms transfers (at a cool $125 a pop). There is no gun dealer in DC. That means residents have to buy their handguns somewhere else and have them shipped into DC for the transfer process.
Except there’s no one to do that any more. Since losing his lease in April, Sykes hasn’t been able to find space for his business that’s in compliance with local zoning laws. Zoning rules require all gun-related businesses be at least 300 feet away from schools, libraries or certain other landmarks. Sound familiar?
Alan Gura, the attorney who won the Heller decision before the Supreme Court, isn’t amused. He’s filed a lawsuit on behalf of three DC residents against the city over the de facto handgun prohibition.
Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) is offering a fix. He informed his colleagues Thursday that he intends to offer an emergency bill that would allow the District to serve as a firearms dealer for the purpose of transferring guns to residents.
Mendelson says he doesn’t want to supplant the free market. He just wants to make sure residents can legally transfer handguns in the District.
But is adding to the city’s already crushing bureaucracy the best way to do that? Why not pass an ordinance allowing DC residents to own handguns lawfully purchased in any other state? Then the city wouldn’t have to hire more people to process transfers and residents wouldn’t have to pay exorbitant fees to FFLs.
Oh. Wait. Never mind.