Otherwise Law-Abiding Turn to Illegal Guns Under DC’s Strictest-in-the-Nation Gun Laws

Fearing for their safety some DC residents turn to the black market

Unholstered Gun
Unholstered Gun / Wikimedia Commons
• November 17, 2015 11:45 am


Some otherwise law abiding Washington, D.C., residents have turned to illegally buying and carrying firearms for protection under the country's most restrictive gun laws.

The reason, one father of three who illegally carries a gun to work every day, told WUSA that he needs the gun for "protection." He said he fears being mugged by someone high on drugs.

"It's mean out here on the streets," he said. "It's dangerous. You could be walking any time, got the kids off the K2 [synthetic marijuana], try to rob you, any type of thing."

With the number of murders in the city up 58 percent over this time last year and most other crimes on the rise as well, the WUSA source says he is not alone in illegally carrying a gun. The chairman of the D.C. Police Union said he agrees with the source.

"That's probably true," Delroy Burton told the news station. "There's no way to quantify that. I mean because they could have bought that gun, legally somewhere else, and moved to D.C. and not registered it here in the District."

"But that is a strong possibility," he said. "That there are a lot of people who are law-abiding for the vast majority of their lives and feel the need to protect themselves to carry a weapon illegally."

The source told WUSA that he carries his gun illegally because it's simply too difficult to make it through the legal process. "It's hard to get legal," he said. "Gotta go through too much process, especially in D.C. Way easier to get it illegally."

Experts have labeled the city's gun control laws as the toughest in the nation. Though the Supreme Court struck down D.C.'s total ban on handguns as unconstitutional and forced the city to allow its citizens to legally own them, the District imposed a strict registration process which takes hundreds of dollars and weeks to complete. To date, the city of more than 600,000 people has only registered around 700 handguns.

The story of gun carry in the city follows a similar path. After a federal judge struck down the city's total ban on gun carry as unconstitutional, the city passed a strict gun-carry law that costs hundreds of dollars to comply with and leaves government officials with the final say in who can receive a permit.

The city has issued about 40 permits.

Additional challenges to the city's restrictive gun laws are currently working their way through the courts.

Published under: Gun Control, Guns, New Gun Laws, Washington