DC Police Chief Welcomes Gun Stores To District

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D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said during a radio interview Friday she would have no opposition to a new gun store opening in the city.

Lanier told WAMU Radio’s “The Politics Hour” that “if there was a regulated way for people to purchase in the District, I wouldn’t have an issue with it.”

It is legal for a resident in one state to purchase a shotgun or rifle in another state and bring it home, but federal law mandates that handguns be bought in the same state a person lives. This is especially troublesome for D.C. residents, since there are no gun shops in the district.

Currently, there is only one licensed gun dealer in the city, and even he doesn’t sell guns. He just acts as a middleman for residents who own guns outside the district or purchase them in surrounding areas and have them shipped in.

Charles Sykes, who runs CS Exchange, the only licensed firearm dealer in Washington, D.C., charges a $125 transaction fee to have guns shipped to him, and arranges for district residents to pick them up there. This allows people to legitimately purchase guns within city limits.

Sykes lost the lease for his small office in 2011, and signed a deal with the Metropolitan Police Department to operate his exchange out of the police department headquarters, so the city would not violate a Supreme Court ruling allowing district residents to possess pistols.

After the 2008 Supreme Court ruling determined the D.C. law banning handguns was unconstitutional, district residents became legally eligible to possess guns in the city, but up until last year they were still banned from carrying guns in public and could only legally possess pistols in their homes.

In July of last year, a U.S. District Court judge declared the ban on carrying handguns in public was unconstitutional, but the case was caught up in appeals until earlier this month when D.C.’s attorney general gave up trying to fight the ruling.

Since the 2008 Supreme Court ruling, Lanier said around 4,000 firearms have been registered in the city, while only 21 concealed carry permits have been issued. Lanier said 86 people have applied for the permits and 24 have been denied, the others are still being processed.

Gun advocates have called the permitting scheme too burdensome to be effective because it is necessary to show an immediate life-threatening need to possess a gun, but the process can sometimes take months to complete.

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