Gun Rights Groups Criticize Ban on Gun Carry on DC Metro in Wake of Murder

DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson Says Metro Requested Ban

Metro / AP
July 10, 2015

Gun rights groups are criticizing part of the Washington, D.C., gun carry law that bans firearms on public transit within the city after a man was stabbed to death on a Metro train on Saturday.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) expressed their opposition to the ban in the wake of a 4th of July murder on the Metro's red line. As the train approached the NoMa-Gallaudet station, Jasper Spires stabbed Kevin Joseph Sutherland as many as 40 times, killing him.

The NRA warned that the incident was likely to be repeated until D.C. removes the ban.

"With so many threats in the nation’s capital, the fact that the District of Columbia government continues to deny residents and visitors the right to protect themselves is a travesty," NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said. "We’ll continue to hear stories like this until the District of Columbia affords every law-abiding citizen their constitutional right to self protection."

When asked if the city was reviewing its ban, a Metro Police Department spokesman referred the Free Beacon to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D.).

Mendelson told the Free Beacon that the Council has no plans to change the law, and appeared to place the burden for that decision on the Metro system, known officially as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

"There are no amendments to the law being considered at this time," said Mendelson in an email. "The law, as revised last fall, gives property owners the right to prohibit carrying on their premises. WMATA contacted the Council prior to our action on the legislation last fall to ask that their premises be off-limits to carrying. WMATA (busses, rail, etc.) was then added to the list. If we were to act to remove WMATA from the list, the effect would be unaffected."

Mendelson did not respond immediately to a request for clarification about how removing Metro from the list of officially prohibited locations in D.C. law would leave the legal status quo unaffected, as his e-mail seemed to suggest.

The Second Amendment Foundation, which brought the case that forced D.C. to allow gun carry, said the Metro ban is a symptom of a larger problem.

"Gun free zones like the District of Columbia's public transit system are really victim disarmament zones and a magnet for violent criminals to prey on unarmed people who have no means of protecting themselves," SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said.

The Virginia Citizen Defense League, a leading gun rights group with a number of members that commute into the city for work, said bans such as this one encourage killings.

"Anytime a law-abiding citizen is denied the right to self defense, as D.C. has done in this case, it creates an environment ripe for such tragedies, as well as encouraging future mass killings," VCDL president Philip Van Cleave said. "Gun-free zones are never gun-free for the criminals, who respect no laws, but only for the good, decent people, who are then setup to become victims."