Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday announced proposed legislation that would allow citizens to apply for a concealed carry permit for the first time in decades after a federal judge found the city’s longtime handgun ban “unconstitutional.”
However, Dr. John Lott Jr., Second Amendment expert and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told TheBlaze the proposed law is not a huge win for gun rights.
Lott said politicians in Washington, D.C., are considering passing a “may issue” concealed carry law that would come with a laundry list of restrictions and the final decision on issuing concealed carry permits would be “arbitrary” and left to government officials.
“There are eight states that have ‘may issue’ laws where you have to meet a number of restrictions, but you also have to demonstrate a need to some public official as to why you need a permit to carry a concealed firearm,” he told TheBlaze.
Lott said Fox News host John Stossel, in 2013, went through the ridiculously long process of trying to obtain a concealed carry permit in New York City, which also operates under a “may issue” law, and he was ultimately denied. Stossel said he was receiving a number of online death threats, thus justifying his need for a permit for self-defense, Lott explained.
But New York City officials didn’t see it that way and his application was rejected.
Lott said the same problems would plague the current proposal to bring concealed carry to the nation’s capital. Further, just like with other anti-gun states and cities, he argued that the rules would “make it extremely difficult for the poorest people to have the option to go and protect themselves, and it’s unfortunate.”
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), a key player in the drafting of the proposed gun legislation, said the bill will allow D.C. residents who own registered handguns as well as non-residents with state carrying licenses to apply for a concealed carry permit. The law would not allow open carry.
But permits will only be given to "suitable firearms owners who can show they have a legitimate need for it to obtain a permit to carry a weapon in public in a concealed manner," according to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
The proposed law also mandates a 1,000-foot gun free zone around things like presidential motorcades and other high profile events and places.
D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, left, and Bulgarian Ambassador to the US Elena Poptodorova participate in a ceremony outside of the Bulgarian embassy in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The “may issue” concealed carry proposal would give D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier a considerable amount of discretion regarding who is ultimately allowed to carry a concealed firearm in D.C.
Mendelson also admitted that the new proposal came together after lawmakers realized that “absolute, complete prohibition probably cannot sustain judicial review.”
Lott told TheBlaze anti-gun lawmakers in D.C. have accepted that concealed carry is a losing issue for them and they are attempting to implement the most restrictive measures that they can get away with, similar to the way concealed carry is handled in New York City.
"I think it's very clear that is what's happening," he said.
He said about 5 percent of the U.S. population have permits to carry concealed handguns, though it’s likely higher because a number of states do not require a permit to concealed carry. In New York City, only .09 percent of residents have concealed carry permits. Ultimately, he argued, very few people will actually be given permits to carry under the current Washington, D.C., proposal.
Research on the issue, Lott continued, “overwhelmingly” suggests that there is “no benefit to restricting concealed carry.” In fact, he said, there is data available that indicates higher rates of citizens carrying concealed firearms may actually reduce murder, rape, and assault rates by making crime more risky.
The concealed carry issue will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, Lott said.