D.C.'s 'Well-Armed' Well-to-Do Residents Are 99% Unarmed

Last week The Washington Post ran a story about newly legal gun ownership in the District of Columbia that highlighted a class angle: So far residents of richer, safer neighborhoods have been more likely to register handguns than residents of poorer, rougher neighborhoods. "Since D.C.'s Handgun Ban Ended," the headline said, "Well-Heeled Residents Have Become Well Armed." Reporter Paul Duggan began the piece this way: "In the 2½ years since the U.S. Supreme Court ended the District's handgun ban, hundreds of residents in Washington's safest, most well-to-do neighborhoods have armed themselves, registering far more guns than people in poorer, crime-plagued areas of the city." Cato Institute Chairman Robert Levy—a driving force behind D.C. v. Heller, the case in which the Court overturned the D.C. gun ban—questions the Post's emphasis:

The important conclusion...is not the difference between two inconsequential registration numbers [151 among the 15,000 wealthy households of the 20016 ZIP code vs. 240 among the 52,000 households east of the Anacostia River], but the fact that the two numbers are so close to zero. In Zip code 20016, nearly 99 percent of the households did not register firearms. East of the Anacostia, more than 99 percent did not register. Rather than ask why there were so few registrants, Mr. Duggan conjured up class warfare with his rich-poor comparison.

Here is the relevant point: The District still has no gun retailers, and a de facto ban on firearms endures. When a Post reporter tested the registration process, he found that it cost $834—dwarfing the cost of most weapons. Moreover, registration required 16 hours, four trips to the police department, two background checks, fingerprints, photos, a vision test, a five-hour class and a 20-question examination. No wonder only 1,400 firearms have been registered since June 2008 in a city of 600,000 people.

The city is violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the Heller decision. More litigation is sure to follow.

Near the end of his story, Duggan himself notes one of the reasons so few Washingtonians are exercising their right to keep arms:

Federal law requires handgun buyers to purchase their firearms in the states where they live, which is a problem for many D.C. residents who want pistols, because there are no gun stores in Washington. Some...already owned guns that they kept elsewhere. But most...need a middleman.

In the District, the middleman is Charles Sykes Jr., the city's only licensed firearms dealer. He works quietly, without advertising, in a hard-to-find office in Southeast.

Sykes charges $125 for his services. Add that to the price of a gun and the cost of the city's registration process (which includes taking time off from work), and it's not terribly surprising that rich people are more likely than poor people to register a handgun. But as Levy says, the real scandal is that the process is costly and cumbersome enough to deter almost everyone.

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  • ||

    Why are there so many politicians in DC who think they can go "fuck you, Supreme Court, I don't care what you say", from the President on down? Is it because they get away with it?

  • ||

    They use the Constitution for toilet paper, why should they respect the supreme court? In the end though, it is our own fault for letting ourselves be victimized by sociopathic power-mongers.

  • cynical||

    You remember how Andrew Jackson was humiliated, impeached, imprisoned for life, and has been remembered as history's greatest monster?

  • ||

    "Is it because they get away with it?"

    Yes.

  • ||

    Just a guess. There are more guns in the non-well-heeled areas of DC. The unregistered kind.

  • ||

    ...151 among the 15,000 wealthy households of the 20016 ZIP code vs. 240 among the 52,000 households east of the Anacostia River...

    The standards of the Math for Journalists curriculum are getting lower and lower...

  • ||

    I'm baffled as to what Duggan's agenda here is. He doesn't seem interested in the reason for the disparity, he's just incoherently screaming "INEQUALITY BAD - HELLER MAKE INEQUALITY - HELLER BAD!"

  • ||

    Sure sounds like some infringement is goin' on to me.

  • R||

    Washington DC makes it extremely expensive to go through the process of purchasing and registering a handgun. IIRC, the fees involved amount to several hundred dollars alone. Not to mention all of the time involved. They also ban many inexpensive handgun models.

    Given all of that, it's no wonder the poor aren't registering handguns very often. They simply can't afford it.

  • R||

    To expand on my comment, it has been theorized that many firearm regulatory schemes may be open to attack on equal protection grounds, as they effectively prevent the poor and less well-connected from exercising a constitutional right. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see future lawsuits against Washington D.C. and places like New York City, New Jersey, etc. use this as part of their legal argument.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    To expand on my comment, it has been theorized that many firearm regulatory schemes may be open to attack on equal protection grounds, as they effectively prevent the poor and less well-connected from exercising a constitutional right. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see future lawsuits against Washington D.C. and places like New York City, New Jersey, etc. use this as part of their legal argument.


    I wonder why such an argument had not been used before.

  • Juice||

    Who did Sykes blow to get the one and only license?

  • LarryA||

    "Since D.C.'s Handgun Ban Ended," the headline said, "Well-Heeled Residents Have Become Well Armed."

    391 guns among 67,000 households is “well armed?

    There are over 1,300 concealed handgun licenses in my county, total population about 42,000. (People, not households.) That’s a small fraction of the estimated 25,000 gun owners. And very few of those gun owners have only one firearm.

    That’s “well armed.”

  • mediageek||

    Perhaps they should call the Violence Policy Center.

    After all, Josh Sugarmann, head of the VPC, does possess a Type 1 FFL, which allows him to deal guns.

    (For more information, run a Google search on his name with FFL.)

  • ||

    Speaking as a poor person, it's simply cheaper and easier to buy a hot gun. Legal guns are expensive, and a pain in the ass to acquire. For $50 - $100, you can get a decent little pocket pistol, without a lot of hassle.

  • chaussures puma ducati||

    change

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