D.C. refuses to register Dick Heller's gun and threatens prosecution for semi-auto owners
By Dean Rieck
In a brazen show of disrespect for the recent Supreme Court decision, the District of Columbia refused to register Dick Heller's gun when he showed up at police headquarters Thursday morning (July 17, 2008). From USA Today:
USA TODAY's Kevin Johnson reports that the District of Columbia refused this morning to register a handgun on behalf of the security guard whose legal challenge resulted in last month's landmark Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment.
Dick Heller was one of two applicants who were waiting at police headquarters when the doors opened to prospective gun owners at 7 a.m. ET. Officers wouldn't let him register a semi-automatic handgun because local laws still ban such weapons.
"The city still does not yet understand the decision of the Supreme Court," Heller says on the steps of police headquarters. "We have been denied again," he adds.
Dane von Breichenruchardt, president of the Bill of Rights Foundation, said the city was attempting to make gun ownership as "difficult and restrictive as possible."
But that's not the half of it.
Even if you can register a gun, new laws quickly passed by the city after the Supreme Court ruling maintain strict storage requirements. Guns must be kept at home, unloaded, and either fitted with a trigger lock or disassembled. Guns can be loaded only AFTER the owner perceives imminent danger from an attacker who is IN THE HOME.
Plus, the city maintains its semi-auto ban by including them in their ban on machine guns. Yes, you read that right. If a gun is loaded from the bottom with a magazine, it is, according to D.C., a machine gun and therefore illegal. Which means Dick Heller cannot register his Colt .45.
Of course you CAN register revolvers, rifles, and shotguns. But the process is incredibly difficult. From The Washington Post:
To begin the registration process, the applicant must bring his or her revolver, unloaded and in a container, to the firearms registration office at police headquarters, 300 Indiana Ave. NW. The applicant must also bring two passport-sized photos, proof of D.C. residency, and a valid D.C. driver's license or a letter from a physician attesting that the applicant's vision is at least as good as that required for the license.
An applicant must fill out registration forms, submit fingerprints and pass a written firearm-proficiency test, while police ballistics experts test-fire the revolver. The revolver will then be returned to the owner, but he or she cannot legally use the weapon, even for self-defense, until notified that the registration has been approved.
Before approving a registration, police will conduct a background check of the applicant. There are several disqualifying factors, including a felony conviction or a history of mental illness. Ballistics examiners will compare the test-fired bullets to bullets from unsolved shootings to determine if a revolver was used in a crime.
It is unclear how long it normally will take for police to approve a registration application.
The article goes on to say that "...if anyone shows up to register a semi-automatic pistol that fits the city's definition of a machine gun, police will confiscate the illegal gun..." and "...reserve the right to investigate and eventually charge such an owner with violating the machine-gun ban."
So if Dick Heller shows up with this Colt .45, the police will seize the gun and possibly charge him with possession of a "machine gun."
By turning away Heller, by retaining most of its former gun restrictions, and by creating a registration process that is purposely designed to discourage registrations, D.C. has thumbed its nose at the Supreme Court and its citizens.
D.C. residents will only get their rights back when the district is forced to do so through lawsuits and legislative action.