The first information regarding how the District of Columbia permitting process is working in practice reached the public this week. To say that the city is dragging its feet would be putting it lightly.
According to the Washington Post, a total of 66 people have applied for carry permits, comprised of 34 residents and 32 nonresidents. Eight permits have been granted and 11 applicants have been denied, meaning that 47 applications are pending. While the average wait time for response has not been made public, the city began taking permit application of October 23, 2014. Under many concealed carry regimes, states are required to issue a permit within a certain, reasonable, time frame.
District officials have displayed a certain level of pride in how onerous their concealed carry permitting process is, noting that they modelled it after the constitutionally dubious schemes of New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. The District’s concealed carry instructions and application make clear that the city’s regime requires documentation “showing a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” Alternatively, the city might deign a person worthy of a permit if their “employment [is] of a type that requires the handling of large amounts of cash or other highly valuable objects that must be transported on your person,” or they need “to provide protection of a family member who is physically or mentally incapacitated to a point where that family member cannot act in defense of himself or herself, or his or her property.”
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson appears to have supreme faith in the D.C. local government’s ability to divine an individual’s private need for self-defense. Responding to comments that the current process is unconstitutional, made by the attorney whose case forced the city to establish its meager permitting process, Mendelson stated, “He must be thinking that everybody should be able to carry a firearm. There is nothing in the law that prevents anyone from applying. . . . The law was designed to weed out those who don’t have a need to carry.”
The Post piece goes on to quote D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie, who states, ”while I do not support the right of an individual to carry a hidden pistol, it appears that our recent legislation to regulate concealed guns is working.” If the D.C. City Council’s goal is to unconstitutionally encumber the right to bear arms for lawful self-defense, then the law is certainly working.
This prevailing authoritarian mindset in D.C. government is exactly why the “Second Amendment Enforcement Act” (SAEA) is so important. The SAEA is federal legislation that overrides the D.C. City Council’s authority to regulate firearms, by shifting that authority to the U.S. Congress. The legislation is analogous to state preemption laws restricting municipalities from creating an unnavigable patchwork of local laws. In addition, the legislation would remove much of D.C.’s current firearm laws, such as its restrictions on ammunition, and the ban on popular semi-automatic firearms. The D.C. city government’s perpetual disrespect for the Second Amendment--their mockery of a concealed carry regime being only the most recent offense--demands this measure to protect the rights of its residents and visitors.