The Corner

Re: More Guns, Fewer Guns, Whatever

Robert: What I found most curious about that loooong Washington Post story on registered guns in D.C. was an assumption which you seemed to share with it: That the number and location of guns that were registered has some correlation to the actual number and location of guns. Subtitled “wealthy residents take up arms,” the story breathlessly reported that fewer guns were registered east of the Anacostia River — the poorest and blackest part of the city — than were registered in Georgetown, Palisades, and Chevy Chase, the richest, whitest parts of the city.

While the story mentioned cost — both of firearms and of registration itself — as the reason for this imbalance, it’s likely that an additional factor is the process of registration itself. If you go to the Metropolitan Police Department’s firearms registration page, you’re faced with a daunting list of requirements, summarized in a 13-page study guide, including:

Bring the completed PD-219 to the FRS, along with . . .

Proof that you have met the minimum training requirement of four hours of classroom instruction and one hour of range instruction conducted by a state-certified or certified military firearms instructor . . .

Take and pass the 20-question multiple choice test based on information on DC’s firearms laws and regulations . . .

Who’s more likely to successfully navigate the required maze — a lobbyist or bureaucrat who’s been taking tests and filling out complex forms for his entire adult life, or a cab driver who barely finished high school and who’s intimidated by the 1040EZ? In other words, the disparity in gun registration tells us nothing — I have little doubt that the proportion of law-abiding people with firearms is much higher in Anacostia than in Georgetown, but they’re just a whole lot more likely to be scared off from registering by the byzantine procedures inherent any bureaucratic interaction. Of course, that also means that when they do have to use their gun in self-defense, they expose themselves to prosecution because they couldn’t navigate the bureaucratic maze of gun registration!

Stephen Hunter’s Sunday op-ed in defense of extended magazines applies to firearms in general: “When the question arises of who needs an extended magazine, the answer is: the most defenseless of the defenseless.” Gun control not only makes it somewhat harder for the defenseless (disproportionately the poor, the weak, the less-educated, the elderly) to get guns in the first place, but then punishes them when they’re forced to defend themselves.


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