City Desk

Council Votes to Require Training for Gun Owners

The council just voted to require gun owners to undergo safety training before they can register weapons in the District.

At the last council meeting, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh had proposed the measure as an amendment to the bill governing the regulation of handguns. Since then, the mayor's office raised concerns about the possibility that such a requirement, shared with very few other jurisdictions, would attract new litigation from the gun-rights crowd. Phil Mendelson, the at-large councilmember who chairs the judiciary and public safety committee and has taken the lead on writing the city's new gun laws, agreed with that assessment and opposed Cheh's amendment.

Today, Cheh again introduced her amendment, and a short debate ensued, the highlight of which was Chairman Vincent C. Gray sharing a story from his youth to explain his support for training. As a child, he explained, his father had kept a gun in the house, and one time "my parents went out, and my brother decided he was going to quote-unquote 'clean his gun'....I had to go to the bathroom, and while i was in the bathroom, this loud noise went off. My brother did not realize that there was a bullet in the chamber. It went right through the furniture and right through where I was standing."

Said Gray, "God must have decided it wasn't my day to go....I remember it as vividly today as when it just occurred."

Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who co-introduced the training amendment with Cheh, also shared an anecdote about the accidental firing of a firearm around the home. The stories seem to have made an impression: The amendment passed 10-3, with Mendelson, Jack Evans, and Carol Schwartz voting against. The amended bill then passed by acclamation.

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  • Bob smith

    So because Gray's brother is a moron we have to live with this crap? The council is so out of it with these restrictions. Either the courts or Congress will strike them down, as they should.

  • al gonzales

    Where does the Second Amendment require "gun education" courses? Bob is right, the courts or Congress will strike down the ridiculous restrictions the DC City Council tries to place on one's constitutional rights.
    This is typical DC city council behavior. Get your ass kicked in court, & have to pay attorneys' fees, then pass a second unconstitutional statute, get your ass kicked in court again, & have to pay attorneys' fees again, etc. etc. etc.

  • annie oakley

    Fewer than 300 firearms have been registered in DC by decent law-abiding gun owners.
    In 2006, MPD seized 2656 illegal, unregistered firearms - up 13% from 2005.
    Did they put all those criminals in jail for illegal possession?
    LOL
    Are they going to prosecute the law-abiding gun owners for not going to "gun school"?
    Much more likely.
    The City Council is NUTS.

  • Babs

    I don't get it, we always complain about not being treated like a state, how about we start acting like a state. No other state has to do this non-sense, good for you Phil Mendelson.

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  • mike

    Voting is a very important civic duty. I think we need mandatory training before being allowed to vote.

  • Dale

    If it is for a CCW permit, they must have training in gun safety. If it is for just buying a hand gun that is a grey area, under ths Second amendment, the basis of the debait for the 2nd is that the militia mentioned, is the people, every man 16 to 60 ARE the milita and the governments of the states are to setup short training sessions to keep the milita ready for any threats! So just buying a gun is still a grey area.

  • Ken M

    Wonderful! The DC Council has managed to get itself on the Court's bad side, so I'm glad that they're pushing this rule. Then when it gets slapped down, we can expect similar state and local rules to get similar treatment after incorporation. Heck, in Massachusetts you have to go to gun school and pay for a license simply to own even a shotgun.

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