Congressman Tom Massie (R-Ky.) has introduced a bill into the House that would reform the District of Columbia’s firearms licensing regime for non-residents. HR 2909, the D.C. Presonal Protection Reciprocity Act, would require the District to recognize firearms carry licenses issued by any state in the union. It would also require the District to issue licenses to any non-resident applicant who qualifies, turning the capital into a “shall issue” zone for non-residents…at least, if those non-residents who already have a license from their place of residence.
The text of HR 2909 isn’t officially available yet, but a PDF copy was sent to us by Jennifer Krantz, Congressman Massie’s Press Secretary, and the full text can be reviewed here. The bill directly amends D.C. Code §§ 22-4505 and 4506. Sec. 4505 provides exemptions to the District’s licensing requirements to military, civilian law enforcement, and other animals that the D.C. City Council considered more equal than others–the bill just slots non-residents with licenses right in there.
Sec. 4506 contains the criteria that the Chief of Police can use in issuing licenses. The bill doesn’t repeal the ‘may issue’ language, but adds additional text specific only to non-residents:
The Chief shall, upon the application of a person having a bona fide residence or place of business within the United States and a license to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person issued by the lawful authorities of any State or subdivision of the United States, issue a license to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person issued by the lawful authorities of any State or subdivision of the United States, issue a license to such person to carry a pistol concealed upon his or her person within the District of Columbia for not more than 2 years from the date of issue.
A follow-up paragraph gives the same coverage to people from states that do not requires license to carry a firearm. The only people missing? Those from ‘may issue’ states who otherwise qualify to carry a gun, but can’t obtain a license from state authorities.
The bill is a start…but parts of it seem unnecessarily petty. If you’ve already mandated reciprocity with the several states, what’s the point of fiddling with the part of the D.C. Code to require that licenses be issued to the very same non-residents who can already carry a firearm because they have a license that the District was required to recognize from the earlier section?
The people who need the ability to obtain a D.C. license are those who live in New York City, San Francisco, Honolulu — the places where obtaining a license is nigh-impossible for those lacking wealth, power, or connections. This bill just disenfranchises them more than they already are.
Which makes you wonder if the bill was intended less for passage and more to score a few points on social media. (“You anti-gunners don’t want this right, so choke on it!”) If the right to keep and bear arms is a human right, why are we not fighting to extend it to people whose rights are being infringed by the governments of their home states?
Under the bill as currently written, there are resident aliens with state-issued firearms licenses who will be able to legally carry a gun in D.C., while American citizens are denied the right. That‘s just insulting. It wouldn’t take much to change it, either — all they have to do is strike that phrase that begins “and a license to carry a pistol…issued by the lawful authorities of any State…” from above.
I won’t blame Mr. Massie too much for that, though — the text appears to have been cribbed from H.R. 4348, which was introduced in the last year of the Obama Administration, when there was zero chance of enactment. Spoiler alert: it didn’t pass. And, at the end of the day, the bill can be amended (I hope) before it’s enacted (I hope.)
This bill was apparently motivated in part by the realization that DC’s officious and bureaucratic gun licensing regime actually applies to Congressmen. That’s more of a problem now, in the wake of last week’s attempted mass murder of Congressmen by a radicalized socialist.
According to the press release issued by Congressman Massie’s office:
“After the horrific shooting at the Republican Congressional Baseball practice, there will likely be calls for special privileges to protect politicians,” Congressman Massie explained. “Our reaction should instead be to protect the right of all citizens guaranteed in the Constitution: the right to self-defense. I do not want to extend a special privilege to politicians, because the right to keep and bear arms is not a privilege, it is a God-given right protected by our Constitution.”
Presently, the bill has 21 cosponsors, including Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who last week was calling for “special privileges to protect politicians” in the form of reciprocity in the District…but only for members of Congress. (Perhaps those were just ill-considered words in a moment of weakness after he was almost murdered.)
It’s unclear how this bill will fare. So far this year, only one significant bill enhancing firearms laws, relating to Social Security recipients, has been signed into law by President Trump. Perhaps
Because it is not a state, the District’s government powers aren’t delegated to it by its people, but rather are granted to it by the U.S. Congress, pursuant to Article I Section 8 paragraph 17 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives it the power “[t]o exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District. If only they’d use it.