Washington, D.C. is one of the most anti-gun jurisdictions in the country, even without the ban on handguns that was in effect from 1977 until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2008. There are no gun stores in the federal city, no ranges where gun owners can train, and residents who want to simply keep a firearm in their home for self-defense must navigate a maze of red tape and bureaucratic hurdles. Those hoping to actually carry a firearm have an even greater burden. In order to get a concealed carry license applicants have to leave the District and travel to Virginia or Maryland for their required training, and until 2017 all applicants had to demonstrate a “justifiable need” to carry.
Despite all of those efforts aimed at reducing the number of legal gun owners in our nation’s capital, the Great Gun Run of 2020 that’s led to millions of new gun owners is happening in Washington, D.C. as well. Local radio station WTOP reports that NICS checks for D.C. residents have already doubled compared to 2019, and plenty of those purchasing firearms are exercising their Second Amendment rights for the very first time.
The sounds of gunfire ringing through her Southeast D.C. neighborhood had always kept Neta Vaught away from firearms. To her, guns symbolized the violence that the mother of three worked so hard to shield her family from — the violence that has Vaught regularly coming across dead bodies and kept her from giving her two teenagers the childhood she wanted.
But after witnessing the national temperature rise over the past few months, between the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing protests against police brutality, Vaught felt she needed to reconsider her self-defense options. She decided it was time to beat her fear of firearms, get training and purchase her first gun.
“As a single mom, I don’t feel as protected anymore, and I want to be able to protect my children,” Vaught said.