Washington, D.C.’s Council voted yesterday to grant residents and visitors the ability to carry concealed firearms in public, but the bill would establish a regulatory structure that could make it difficult for gun owners to secure a permit, reports the Washington Post. The legislation passed unanimously, although several council members voted for the bill reluctantly after a federal judge struck down the city's long-standing ban on carrying weapons.
Council member Mary Cheh said she was “deeply disappointed” by the demise of the city's decades-old ban on carrying guns and said the court ruling, in her view, did “grievous harm to public safety” in the nation's capital. Cheh joined her colleagues in voting for the bill, knowing that the court order would otherwise invalidate much of the city's gun-control statute and that prosecutors have already stopped pursuing unlicensed-carrying charges. Before gun owners can apply for permits, Mayor Vincent Gray must sign the bill, and the D.C. police department has to issue regulations setting up a licensing framework, a process that could take weeks. Even then, few applicants might end up qualifying for permits. “I'd be surprised if a year from now, it was more than a couple hundred,” said the council chairman, Phil Mendelson, who drafted the bill with mayoral and police officials.