In the wake of the targeted shooting of Republicans at baseball practice and the heroic efforts of capitol police to apprehend the shooter, it’s time we revisit an ineffective, unconstitutional law that bans adults from obtaining concealed-carry permits inside the District of Columbia.
Not only do our representatives and other government officials deserve to feel safe while doing their civic duty on our behalf, but the rest of us who enjoy DC regularly have a right to protect ourselves while visiting a hotspot for crime.
More Guns Save Lives By Democratizing Force
If any area of the country should expand gun laws, it’s Washington DC, where power is centralized, crime is rampant, and more guns will save lives. As the hub of political activity where our political leaders gather and work, there’s often hardly enough police or security to go around for representatives and their aides. Many work, attend meetings, and travel accompanied by a staff member and no protection whatsoever.
In the case of the Alexandria shooting, armed police were only on-site because a member of congressional leadership was also, which allowed a quicker resolution to an awful situation as they immediately returned fire. But what if Majority Whip Steve Scalise hadn’t been present? More people would likely have been injured or killed.
Although crime, particularly homicide, is down in the District, violent crime is still higher than the national average and the city, along with nearby Baltimore, is among the top murder capitals of the nation. Recently while at my favorite kid-friendly restaurant on Capitol Hill, I asked a cop what it was like to try to stop crime there. He shook his head and said they often reprimand the same perpetrators over and over. What about loosening gun restrictions? “They never will,” he said with a sigh. “This city is too liberal.”
The Nation’s Gun Control Mecca
Washington DC gun laws are far too strict. Currently, buying and selling handguns is illegal in the District. Residents and non-residents can apply for a concealed-carry permit, but due to a stay issued by a federal appeals court last year, “DC Just Cause” is in effect. That means folks seeking a permit to lawfully carry must go through an arduous process that includes meeting multiple requirements, “including demonstrated to the Chief good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.”
Once the paperwork is filled out, granting permission is still at the discretion of local police. Should the police finally give permission for an individual who has demonstrated “need” to acquire his concealed-carry permit, there are still restrictions on top of that.
Even after that, a lawmaker who’s been threatened before and established his need for a permit can’t reload his six-shot revolver more than once on his foes as that would equal 12 rounds, the max amount allowed in DC. But isn’t the whole point of acquiring a concealed-carry permit to allow for personal protection or protection of defenseless around you? Limiting law-abiding citizens’ ability to protect themselves and others only makes innocents vulnerable to bad people, who have less regard for following the law. If you’re going to commit murder, you’re not going to be worrying about breaking a rounds restriction in the process.
The Second Amendment Is Constitutional, Ya’ll
Of course, fans of the Second Amendment already know the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia addressed this issue in his epic, must-read majority opinion for District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark case overruling the District’s previous outright gun ban, for which the District has substituted an effective paperwork ban.
It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upperbody strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid. We must also address the District’s requirement (as applied to respondent’s handgun) that firearms in the home be rendered and kept inoperable at all times. This makes it impossible for citizens to use them for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.
Lawmakers in places like DC don’t want the average adult walking around with a concealed-carry permit because they too have bought into the absurd lie that more frequent bearing of loaded weapons would be a menace to society. This has been debunked so many times it’s hardly worth doing so here. Dozens of statistics show the more gun control decreases, the more crime does too. In other words, the more people possess guns, the less others commit crime. There are countless stories of people protecting themselves or loved ones with a legally purchased handgun.
I Just Want to Protect My Kids from Crazies
Although I live in Northern Virginia, as a mother of four who homeschools at least one history buff, we make regular, often weekly, trips into DC for various festivals, conventions, exhibits, or just to revisit an favorite museum or monument. I find every year my kids are able to glean more from the same exhibits they’ve seen dozens of times.
However, in the wake of so many terrorist attacks over the last five years, especially of “soft” targets, I’ve often wondered how I would protect myself and my four kids should tragedy strike while we are visiting one of the most targeted areas in the world. The National Mall, for example, is a wonderful place to learn and roam, but there’s very little shelter. If something tragic happened there, we’d have difficulty hiding or finding shelter, let alone actively protecting ourselves.
I’m a sane adult but don’t have an express vocational need for protection, except protecting the valuables my children represent. If I were allowed to possess a concealed-carry permit, I could rest a little easier knowing I could proactively protect my children and those around me in the event of sudden crisis. As Scalia said in Heller,
Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.
No, it is not. As a friend said to me in an e-mail, “The de facto ban on concealed carry is why I travel to D.C. as little as possible. I’m way more likely to get knifed or shot or robbed there than I am just anywhere else, and it’s the one place I can’t legally defend myself. Forget that.” So it’s time for the District to lift its tight restrictions on gun laws, allow reasonable adults to acquire a concealed-carry permit, and let everyone rest easier in our nation’s capital.