Residents of the nation’s capital now are facing one of the most severe gun control laws in the country – one that for the first time in the nation’s history requires gun owners to re-register their guns, as well as get photographed and fingerprinted.
All Washington residents now have a 90-day window to register their guns with the police, The Washington Times reported. This even applies to people who previously registered their guns.
Failure to register a gun within the 90-day window has significant consequences: It is a felony punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. Also, the gun itself then enters a category of un-registerable guns, “just as though it were a machine gun or a sawed-off shotgun,” The Times reported.
This means that if a gun owner somehow does not know about the law and misses the window, he becomes a felon and his gun cannot be registered.
“A person who fails to renew their firearms registration within 90 days of the deadline (meaning, 90 day renewal period + 90 day grace period = 180 days total) will have their firearm registration cancelled, will be in possession of an unregistered firearm, and may face criminal charges punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or 1 year in jail, or both,” an email from Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump stated.
A Tax On Gun Owners
The registration program could be the most restrictive gun law in the nation, at least regarding handguns. Some details of the program include:
- All registered gun owners in Washington D.C. will have to through a fingerprinting and an electronic background check administered by the FBI. The gun owner’s name and fingerprints will be run through the FBI’s National Instant Background Checks System, or NCIS. The idea is to determine if the individual is legally barred from owning a gun.
- The author of the law, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, said fingerprinting and background checks were necessary to keep people from registering with false names.
- Gun owners will have to pay $18 to get finger printed and $13 to register every gun own they own. “Multiply that times the minimum 30,000 registrants and the city is raking in about a cool $1 million from gun owners. No other right in the Constitutional comes with a cash payment. .” Washington Times writer Emily Miller observed.
- Gun owners must go to police headquarters and register their weapons at a specific time. Those born between February 16 and March 31 must register between April 1 and June 30, for example. It will take two years to complete all re-registrations.
- The Metropolitan Police Department has already spent $550 on an advertisement for registration that ran in The Washington Times.
Already Being Challenged In Court
“Requiring registration in the first place to exercise a constitutional right is harassment enough,” Stephen Halbrook, a gun rights attorney, told the Times. “Canceling the registration every three years and charging the equivalent of a poll tax to reregister, and requiring citizens to be fingerprinted yet again, adds insult to injury. Criminals in the sex-offender registration system aren’t even subjected to that.”
Not surprisingly the gun registration program is already being challenged in court. Dick Heller, who successfully challenged Washington’s virtual ban on handguns in court in 2008, has filed a new lawsuit against the registration dubbed Heller II on Dec. 10.
The brief filed by Heller’s attorneys made some interesting points including:
- Registration hasn’t kept illegal guns out of Washington D.C. Between 2007 and 2013 police confiscated 12,000 unregistered firearms in the city, Miller reported.
- Only two people were convicted of committing crimes with registered guns in Washington D.C., during that period.
- Police officers do not have access to registration records and rarely use them to solve crimes.
It looks like Washington D.C. is once again pioneering new restrictions on guns – and making gun owners pay for them.