D.C. resists correcting gun laws

emily gets her gun

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has had two weeks to remove false information about the city’s gun transport laws from its forms and website. It has no interest in doing so.

flashMPD officials refuse to admit that they have been giving out incorrect information over the past four years, much less fix the problems. With the D.C primary election taking place on Tuesday, it’s important to know if the city council will use its oversight powers to force a correction.

The man who wrote the gun law, D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson, was made aware of the errors uncovered by my series. He’s determined to get them fixed.

As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, the at-large Democrat has oversight of the firearms office in the police department, and his office said that he will be asking MPD to ensure that the proper facts about taking a firearm through the nation’s capital are provided to the public.

MPD’s firearms registry has at least six full-time staff who answer questions about gun laws and regulations asked over the phone or in person. Unfortunately, the  police officers do not appear to understand the legal code they are in charge of interpreting, which means gun owners are being given bad advice regarding activities that could result in a felony arrest.

The registry’s website is not user friendly and totally out of date. The first page is  about the “recent regulatory changes,” which refers to the list of handguns allowed in the District after the Supreme Court overturned the 30-year ban in 2008. Next on the site is the section for “legislative changes,” which then lists links to the full text of the legislation passed in 2009 in the wake of the court’s decision.

The site then gives office hours – weekdays from 9am to 5pm, meaning you have to take off work to register a gun so that the police don’t have to work on weekends. You’ll have to scroll down a full page to find the red text with the gun laws.

Since the registry office won’t accept anything on the page is wrong, I’ll point out the mistakes:

• Registry office information: “No person shall carry or possess a firearm on public space in the District of Columbia unless traveling directly to or from a lawful firearm-related activity (registration, hunting, shooting at a practice range, etc.).”

False. You are allowed to transport your gun for any lawful purpose. You do not have to be coming or going to a firearm-related activity.

Read the rest of the article at The Washington Times online.

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