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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 14, 2010

DC FINDS NEW WAYS TO VIOLATE SUPREME COURT RULING

As we have noted, DC's attempts at gun prohibition have been an utter failure. In fact, following the passage of major legislation some decades ago, gun deaths soared. More recently the capital's crime rate has dropped significantly without any change in the availability of guns. That has not stopped the city from even trying to void a Supreme Court ruling on the matter by making guns more difficult for honest people to obtain. Here's an example of why we gave city the unofficial motto of "DC: Where Life is a Moving Violation."

Christian Davenport, Washington Post
- It took $833.69, a total of 15 hours 50 minutes, four trips to the Metropolitan Police Department, two background checks, a set of fingerprints, a five-hour class and a 20-question multiple-choice exam. Oh, and the votes of five Supreme Court justices. They're the ones who really made it possible for me, as a District resident, to own a handgun, a constitutional right as heavily debated and rigorously parsed as the freedoms of speech and religion.

Just more than a year ago, by a 5-to-4 decision, the court struck down the District's three-decades-old outright ban on handguns -- the most restrictive gun law in the country. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, said the Second Amendment guarantees the right of an individual to bear arms, not just Americans in a "well regulated Militia"; the District's prohibition was therefore unconstitutional.

Reluctantly, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration set up a process through which about 550 residents -- now including yours truly -- have acquired a handgun. But as my four trips to the police department attest, D.C. officials haven't made it easy.

Which was exactly their intent. The day the Heller decision was announced, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) vowed that the city was still "going to have the strictest handgun laws the Constitution allows." Fenty decried the ruling, saying that "more handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence." . . .

It may be legal to own a gun in the District, but you still can't buy one within the city limits. At least not in a gun store because there are none. Instead, you must make the purchase in one of the 50 states and have the weapon transferred into the custody of one man: Charles Sykes, who plays an odd role in the transaction.

As a licensed firearms dealer, he could, theoretically, sell guns. But he chooses not to because "I don't want to have to carry an inventory," he says. "Too much liability." Instead, he's the middleman, the only licensed dealer willing to help D.C. . .

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