Emily Miller, FOX 5 WASHINGTON D.C. -
I am a registered gun owner, but I feel that I'm in more danger on the streets of Washington, D.C. than inside my home. So when D.C. recently passed a new law allowing for some rights to carry a gun outside the home, I decided to apply for a permit. I quickly found that it is still impossible to exercise my Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Until July, Washington, D.C. was the only place in the country did not allow for any right to carry a gun outside the home. A federal district court judge ruled in the Palmer case that the total ban was unconstitutional.
The D.C. attorney general said last week that the city will appeal the ruling. While the issue goes through the courts, the Metropolitan Police Department has started giving out applications, so I went to the firearms registration office to start the process.
Milton Agurs, a civilian police department employee was at the front desk. I told him why I was there.
“You need to meet two criteria,” Agurs explained. “First that your life is in danger, your family or your property, or you have the type of business you carry large sums of money, jewelry. Under those circumstances, you can get a carry permit in DC.”
“To prove my life is in danger?” I asked. “Obviously there is a rising crime rate and a high rate of murders and sexual assaults in D.C. -- is that enough to say I want this for self-defense?”
“You have to prove you need concealed carry as opposed to just wanting one,” he replied.
Prove a need for a constitutional right? That's what D.C.'s new law says.
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The application that Agurs gave me said that living and working in a high crime city is not enough to get a carry permit. I read further down where it says that it has to be “a special danger to your life."
What's the difference between a regular danger -- like getting raped and murdered on the street --- and a special danger? You have to prove you are being targeted.
“Do I have to give evidence?” I asked.
“Yes ma'am,” said Agurs.
“I was a victim of a home invasion. And I've gotten a threat against me. Do I just give the police records?” I asked.
“Yes, ma'am,” he said.
I asked Agurs who will decide whether or not my self-defense needs are special?
That's something the chief of police will do,” he said, referring to Chief Cathy Lanier. “But you'll have your reasons why you feel like you need it.”
“The chief of police personally will decide whether or not I get a carry permit?” I asked.
“You know it usually works-- it's going to be her or someone on her staff,” he said.
Proving a “need” is just one part of the carry permit application. You have to do 16 hours of classroom training, plus two hours at the range.
“Where do I go to do that?” I asked Agurs.
“Unfortunately, I think they are still setting up the classes,” he replied.
There's the rub. The city isn't actually abiding by the court decision. No one can apply for a carry permit because the police haven't certified any trainers for the mandatory classes. That might be partly because D.C. charges trainers $400 to be certified.
In contrast, Virginia accepts any class that is certified by the NRA. And there's no minimum time requirement for training.
So I asked Agurs: "The Second Amendment right to bear arms just doesn't fully apply here?"
"I believe when the Second Amendment was written, that was more or less for when the British were coming."
When the British were coming? The Bill of Rights is no longer relevant?
Well, I spoke with Alan Gura, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Palmer case. He said that the city's new carry permit law is unconstitutional and does not adhere to the court ruling. Gura has filed a request for a permanent injunction, which a district court judge will hear on Nov. 20.
So I can't go any further in the application process until the police certify someone to teach the 18 hours of classes. The police gun registration office told me to keep calling to find out when that happens.