DC’s AG: “There will be no authorization of automatic or semi-automatics.”

Well, that didn’t take long. I just got done earlier today saying we should wait and see what DC’s intentions are with regard to their registration process. Their Attorney General, Peter Nickles, is already deciding what types of handguns you’re going to be allowed to have:

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles says D.C. will start issuing permits to own a gun in 21 days, once the Supreme Court hands their decision down to the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.

“This is not open season with handguns,” Nickles says. “We are going to strictly regulate the registration of handguns. There will be no authorization of automatic or semi-automatics.”

OK, first things first: the possession of automatic weapons is already against federal law and has been for decades. No one’s going to come up and ask to register a newly-bought machine gun because they can’t buy machine guns. An AG for the nation’s capital should already know that.

As to the semi-automatics, I think Mr. Nickles is lining himself up for yet another lawsuit. The Supreme Court’s decision today specifically cited the DC gun ban as unconstitutional because it banned a class of weapons that 1) is clearly in common use by militia forces and 2) is clearly the most popular choice of Americans for self-defense purposes. The semi-automatic handgun fits both of those criteria equally well and banning weapons that fall into those categories is what got the DC government a decades-overdue butt-whupping in court to begin with. Someone should ask Mayor Fenty how much more of his budget he wants to spend arguing cases his city’s going to lose.

The story also says Nickles claims they may also require trigger locks be kept on guns. Again, that’s a point specifically dealt with in today’s ruling and the Court explicitly said that such a requirement is not Constitutional. Period. That Nickles is (pardon the phrase) shooting his mouth off like this doesn’t lend much hope to the notion that the DC government is going to adhere to the spirit of the ruling. Unless Mayor Fenty gets his AG under control and opts to actually abide by the ruling (which he said earlier today that he will respect and follow) his lawyers are going to be getting smacked around with this decision lots and lots in the coming months.

3 thoughts on “DC’s AG: “There will be no authorization of automatic or semi-automatics.””

  1. Acting Attorney General Nickles is actually following DC law, which forbids private ownership of any firearm capable of firing 12 or more rounds without reloading. This groups together fully-automatic machine guns, autoloading assault weapons, and semi-automatic handguns. There are few semi-automatic handguns that cannot be easily modified to fire 13 or even 30 rounds without reloading.

    See http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/the-spin-on-dc-gun-laws/

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