Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Monday that the city’s Metropolitan Police Department will temporarily serve as a federal firearms licensee for city residents who want to purchase a firearm during the coronavirus closures. The sole FFL in Washington, D.C. “abruptly” stopped accepting new customers last month, according to the mayor, and there was concern that if residents had no way to acquire a firearm during the city’s declared emergency, Washington D.C. was going to be sued over the violation of the Second Amendment.
“So that we wouldn’t run into any constitutional issues or open ourselves up to meddling in our gun laws from outside groups,” the mayor told the press at a Monday briefing, “MPD and the deputy mayor immediately started working on alternatives. The solution that we came up with was to delegate to MPD the authority to operate as the District’s federal firearms licensee while there is no other commercial alternative.”
Once there is a viable commercial alternative, Bowser says the MPD will cease conducting firearms transfers.
I love how the mayor calls attempts to ensure that the Second Amendment rights of Washington, D.C. residents aren’t being violated “meddling.” If it weren’t for “meddling” by pro-2A organizations, Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns would still be in place, concealed carry would still be forbidden, and the right to keep and bear arms wouldn’t exist in our nation’s capitol. As it is, more than a decade after D.C. handgun ban was struck down by the Supreme Court in Heller, not a single gun store or range has opened for business in Washington, D.C.
Would-be gun owners are still going to have to go to Maryland or Virginia to purchase their firearms, and then have them transferred over to the Metropolitan Police before they can actually take ownership of them. The city does offer its required training course for new gun owners online, but those hoping to obtain a concealed carry license in the District may be out of luck, since training courses have been largely shut down in Virginia and Maryland along with private ranges.
I’m skeptical that Bowser’s concern for the right to keep and bear arms was what prompted the decision to allow the Metropolitan Police Department to serve as an FFL, but even if its for the wrong reasons, the city is doing the right thing in continuing to allow firearms to be transferred during the current emergency. It would be even better, of course, if the city actually had gun stores for residents to visit instead of having to leave the confines of the federal district to get to a gun shop, but that’s a court challenge for another day.