by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department claims to have streamlined the handgun-transfer process following complaints from residents, but some in the nation’s capital still face serious delays in exercising their Second Amendment rights.
Dick Heller, who defeated the city’s handgun ban in a 2008 Supreme Court case, said the department expedited one weapon transfer in July after he threatened to sue, but a second handgun he ordered in August is still stuck in limbo. Heller said the licensed gun dealer he purchased the gun from in West Virginia struggled for weeks to make contact with MPD. Heller still hasn’t been given a date for when he can pick up his new gun even after making contact with the department in late September.
“It would appear that what we have again is the ‘denial of service,'” Heller told the Washington Free Beacon.
Dustin Sternbeck, director of the MPD Office of Communications, told the Free Beacon that the department has dedicated more resources and set up a new scheduling process in response to complaints about the months-long delays. He said the changes have begun to bear fruit.
“Transfers have increased and individuals are experiencing shorter wait times since updates were put in place,” Sternbeck said.
Since Washington, D.C., does not have a single gun store operating within city limits, the only legal way to get a handgun is to buy one from an out-of-state dealer and transfer it through a federally licensed dealer inside the city. In March, however, the only remaining private dealer in the city closed down as transfer requests began to mount. Sternbeck said the situation caused a massive backlog, as the police department scrambled to obtain its own dealer license to ensure transfers could still occur.