Tom Sherwood’s Notebook: Shooting up D.C. gun laws … !

0
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine speaks at his 2015 inauguration. (Brian Kapur/The Current/January 2015)
Advertisement

Concealed-carry handgun advocates won another victory in the District last week.

It may be time to fire up my idea of a gun store on Capitol Hill. If guns are going to be readily available in the District, concealed-carry or otherwise, maybe it’s a good idea to open the only gun store as close to congressional offices as possible.

But back to last week.

Advertisement

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine chose not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which invalidated a single provision of city law that required concealed-carry applicants to show a clear “good reason” for seeking a permit.

Under the current law, the city’s police chief grants your gun permit only if the reason is good enough. Now, it looks like just filling out the paperwork and having the required training soon will get you that gun.

“This was a difficult decision, but we think the Attorney General made the right call,” wrote Walter Smith, executive director of the legal and social advocacy group DC Appleseed. Smith agreed with Racine that an appeal might put at risk other gun restrictions, including handgun training and background checks.

“The District’s other stringent requirements will remain in place,” Smith wrote. “Taking this case to the Supreme Court might have put those other requirements in jeopardy, and would certainly have created a protracted period of uncertainty” over the status of gun laws in the nation’s capital.

Ward 6 D.C. Council member Charles Allen, chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, also weighed in. “There is little to no evidence to suggest a majority of the [Supreme Court] justices would rule in our favor,” he said.

The same “good reason” requirement is in the state of Maryland’s handgun law. But the initial court ruling only applies to D.C., leaving similar “good reason” laws valid in Maryland as well as New York and New Jersey.

On a hopeful note, Appleseed laid out how the D.C. Circuit made clear that allowing concealed carry outside the home is subject to at least some regulation.

Again, Appleseed’s Smith:

“The Court said that the District’s rule must allow residents who are ‘no more dangerous with a gun than the next law-abiding citizen’ to ‘carry a gun in the face of ordinary self-defense needs.’ The Court also said that those ‘needs’ must be measured by ‘the risks and needs of typical law-abiding citizens.’ It furthermore said that while the District’s rules should be based on such typical ‘risks and needs,’ it should grant a license to carry only to those [shown] to be ‘responsible citizens’ and should deny it to those ‘prone to misuse’ the weapons.”

Still, once the legal paperwork revising the law is all done, more people will be carrying guns around our city. But be sure, handguns or any private guns still will be banned on the Capitol grounds of Congress. Simply said, that means you’re going to be more at risk of gunfire anywhere in the city — but Congress won’t be.

About that idea of a gun store on Capitol Hill? It at least would level the playing field for your families and the members of Congress, their families and staff.

Las Vegas terror. The horrific mass shooting in Nevada is a form of domestic terrorism, although academics might say that terrorism requires some kind of ideological, religious or political motive that as of this writing isn’t evident in this case. The national gun debate for the moment has moved just a fraction toward limits over semi-automatic weapons and automatic weapons.

Many don’t expect real change, pointing to the shooting deaths of many others, especially the 20 elementary children and six teachers killed at Sandy Hook in 2012.

One thing out of Las Vegas is clear.

Nevada has lax gun laws. Many people may have been carrying firearms at the country music concert. Whether concealed carry or not, they did nothing for the fans or first responders caught in the hail of rifle gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

The national debate over guns ebbs and flows. The only thing certain is that killing of all kinds goes on.

The Wharf. Readers of the Notebook may recall that we relocated back in 2007 from Ward 3’s Tenleytown to Southwest near Arena Stage. At the time, it had few neighborhood amenities beyond that theater. Our son famously asked, “Why are you moving there?” We said the waterfront had Cantina Marina, and that was maybe enough for him.

Well, 10 years later, we have our better answer. The Near Southwest neighborhood is adjacent to the new $2 billion Wharf that this week begins its months-long opening day festivities with new shops, restaurants, housing and hotels. Our little community right on the water is also an easy walk to the National Mall and to Nationals Park.

My co-op building met my two basic needs as we consider retirement: no steps and no yardwork.

Come visit the Wharf. Maybe we’ll say hello on the new boardwalk.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.