DC Police Chief Encourages Civilians to Intervene in Shootings Despite Denying Most Gun Carry Permits

November 23, 2015

Washington, D.C., Chief of Police Cathy Lanier encouraged civilians to stop shooters, like the one who killed 12 people in the city's Navy Yard, despite denying the vast majority of those who've applied for a gun carry permit.

"Your options are run, hide, or fight," Lanier told Anderson Cooper on Sunday's episode of 60 Minutes. "I always say, if you can get out, getting out is your first option, your best option. If you're in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it's the best option for saving lives before police can get there."

"And that's, you know, that's kind of counterintuitive to what cops always tell people, right? We always tell people don't, you know, don't take action. Call 911. Don't intervene in the robbery. We've never told people: take action. This is a different scenario."

When asked by Cooper if she was now telling people to take action against shooters, Lanier said, "we are."

Lanier's comments come as her office continues to deny most applications for gun carry permits under the law's "good reason" clause which gives Lanier discretion in deciding who is issued a permit. Currently the Metropolitan Police Department has approved 48 of the 298 permit applications, MPD spokesperson Lt. Sean Conboy told the Washington Free Beacon. That represents an approval rate of 16 percent.

When asked why Chief Lanier denies gun carry permits while encouraging civilians to intervene in an active shooter situation or how she would advise an unarmed civilian to stop an armed assailant, the MPD refused to provide an answer.

"We are declining to participate further with your story," Conboy said.

Gun rights groups, which are currently challenging the city's gun carry law in federal court, agreed with Chief Lanier's comments but criticized her handling of gun carry permitting.

"We agree with Chief Lanier," National Rifle Association spokesperson Jennifer Baker said. "We only hope that this means she will begin to issue concealed carry permits to law-abiding citizens so they won’t have to "take out" armed terrorists with their bare hands."

"This is sound advice, but considering the Draconian gun laws in the District, it will remain difficult if not impossible for most private citizens to do what the chief is suggesting," Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said. "The District’s insanely prohibitive concealed carry law should be immediately reformed, making it easier and far more affordable for average citizens to get a carry permit."