More Wealthy D.C. Residents Registering Guns

WASHINGTON (AP) — Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban more than 2 1/2 years ago, hundreds of residents in Washington’s safest and wealthiest areas have registered handguns — more than those in poor areas with higher crime — according to police statistics.

Records show more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with police since the 2008 ruling, according to data obtained by The Washington Post. Among those, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase neighborhoods. In the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River — where many areas are plagued by poverty and violence — about 240 guns have been registered.

There isn’t a single clear explanation for why wealthy residents have bought more guns than people who live in the toughest neighborhoods. Police Lt. Jon Shelton, who heads the firearms registration unit, said it could be simple economics.

“You have to figure, what are legitimate guns costing now?” Shelton said. “A basic revolver is going for $350 or $400. And you’re talking about $650, $700 for a quality 9 millimeter. So who’s got that kind of money to just throw out there for a gun?”

“Legitimate people I’m talking about now. A lot of them, these days , they’re having a hard enough time putting food on the table for their kids.”

No one knows how many legal guns are held by residents in Washington. Police said there could be thousands more that were bought in the past under different laws. About 23,000 guns were grandfathered in after the city enacted its handgun ban in 1976.

Rifle and shotgun registrations were accepted over the years of the handgun ban as well.

Of the 1,400-plus guns registered since 2008, more than 1,000 are handguns, mainly semiautomatics. The rest are rifles and shotguns.

Alan Gura, who successfully argued to overturn the handgun ban, has another gun-rights lawsuit that he hopes will allow Washington residents to carry their weapons in public — perhaps openly. To date, handguns still must be kept at home, but Gura has support among new gunowners to change that.

Rick Du Bose, 59, who works for the U.S. Energy Department and lives in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of northwest Washington, said he bought a Ruger .357 magnum “before the ink was dry” on the law permitting handgun ownership. He said he worries more about “the crackheads” and other menacing characters on the streets than about shooting someone in his home.

“I make no apologies for advocating concealed firearms-carry for law-abiding citizens,” Du Bose said. Until then, he keeps his handgun at home. “Loaded,” he said. “Right there in the bedstand.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Michael

    This news story is moot: Just because the gun isn’t registered, doesn’t mean it’s not owned by persons in the more violent areas.

    The high-income, low-crime areas are as such due to the habitants following the law and abiding by it… hence… high-income and low-crime; these people probably are more willing to follow the law and comply with registration laws for their weapons. While in the low-income, high-crime area the thinking on this is typically reverse of the other area where one can make an argument saying that inhabitants of this area are not abiding by the law (not everyone, the ones who are committing the crimes)… hence higher-crime, and in the same train of thought, not registering weapons.

    How many criminals do you know: walk into a weapon shop, browse for an item, and select one they would like to purchase, apply for the permit, wait the mandatory waiting period, come back to the store, purchase their weapon and then go home? While they may, this is typically the exception and not the rule. Most weapons used in the commission of violent crimes, ones using a weapon, are done so with unlawfully owned, unregistered weapons…
    It makes sense that the criminals aren’t registering their weapons, they’re criminals after all.

    Moot news story.

  • Herman Glimsher

    You’re missing the point of the story………..since the repeal of the law, more law-abiding citizens are purchasing firearms for self-defense/home defense because they realize the police can’t protect them.

    • Michael

      Am I missing the point? It never once says in there a single notion, nod or suggestion towards the citizens feeling as if the police can’t ptect them.

      • Michael


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  • willie man hanging

    The wealthy always do what they want anyway.

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