DC Attorney General Peter Nickles has filed the city's official response to a lawsuit hoping to legalize carrying weapons in DC. Of course, the District government is opposed to any sort of public carry, whether "open carry" or concealed. (Fun fact, in Virginia, open carry is legal, and requires no permit. If you walk around Clarendon with a gun in a holster, people will likely call 911, but you aren't breaking the law.) I understand that it's Mayor Fenty's political position that gun control is good and helps prevent crime. However, Nickles' reasoning as expressed in this filing is a bit of a stretch.
[I]t would be far more difficult for MPD and Federal law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia to ensure safety and security in the Nation’s Capital.So if I am to understand this correctly, since DC is home to government officials and visiting dignitaries, citizens should not be allowed to apply for a permit to carry a gun in public. This is because permit-holding gun owners are going to decide to assassinate people. If the District allowed concealed carry permits, that would not extend to government buildings or courtrooms or anywhere else concealed weapons could be banned for security reasons. Obviously the President and other dignitaries never visit states that permit the carrying of concealed weapons.
[P]rotecting government officials and infrastructure is a challenge for every cityin the United States. But in Washington, DC, the likelihood of attack is higher, and the challenges to protecting the city are greater.
[T]he high-profile human targets—from the Nation’s top elected leaders to the more than 400 foreign dignitaries that make official visits to DC each year—are also an obvious and attractive target.
[I]n addition to assisting the Secret Service with daily movements of the President and Vice President around the city, and protecting foreign dignitaries, MPD also provides security support for more than 4,000 special events annually. [I]magine how difficult it will be for law enforcement to safeguard the public, not to mention the new President at the Inaugural Parade, if carrying semi-automatic rifles were to suddenly become legal in Washington.
[A]llowing [weapons] to be carried in a large number of places outside the home will make this job much more dangerous and difficult.
It is clear to me and others engaged every day in securing DC against terrorism that our city is unique.
Nickles also quotes MPD Chief Cathy Lanier regarding her inability to bring her sidearm into the United States Supreme Court:
The Federal Government considers the Court building to be so sensitive that, no matter who you are, you cannot wear your firearm in the building.
I would argue that similar caution should apply to the District of Columbia. [T]he District of Columbia, as the seat of the Federal government, with its multitude of critical official and symbolic buildings, monuments, and events, and high-profile public officials traversing its streets every day, is a city filled with “sensitive” places. Our laws should reflect that reality.
That reasoning just makes my head hurt.
The other argument that Nickles uses is the OK Corral or Wild Wild West argument... that if we permit people to carry weapons in public, everyone will start shooting at each other. Well, that already happens, but among people who don't have permits. Many other states have concealed carry permits, and are not seeing problems with massive gunfights breaking out. Northern Virginia allows concealed carry, and we don't have people with road rage shooting at each other on the Beltway or I-66.
So what is this really about? It's impossible to make an argument that the District's gun laws were preventing crime. Since Heller, we haven't seen an epidemic of anything at all relating to legal firearms. In fact, since the District relaxed the gun laws, there hasn't been a single instance of a legal firearm being discharged. We don't have children shooting each other, we don't have people accidentally shooting each other. Zip. Nada.
If the District were to implement a permitting process for concealed carry, allowing those with permits to carry registered handguns, I hardly see a problem with that. I don't think it's going to help fight street crime, there won't be that many people applying for the permits, and even fewer actively carrying. Perhaps there's something to be said that criminals might think twice about robbing someone if they might have a gun. Who knows. I just can't get behind AG Nickles and the District's argument on this matter.
I see people all the time saying that, if anything, guns should be harder to get. They cite all sorts of gun crimes that have happened in DC, explaining that gun crime is out of control. I don't understand how people can sit at their computer and type these things and believe that it makes sense. Saying that a person who wants to legally obtain, register, and carry a handgun is the same as a 16 year-old kid who shoots at some other kids and hits a woman walking home from work is completely ridiculous.
So what's the real reason why we should prohibit what would likely be a couple dozen people from legally carrying handguns?
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