Buying a Gun in D.C. Not Illegal, but Impossible

Sole dealer out of business

By Darcy Spencer and John Wist
|  Sunday, May 1, 2011  |  Updated 6:27 PM EDT
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Buying a Gun in DC Not Illegal, But Impossible

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If you are upset about not being able to buy a gun in D.C., blame the market, a D.C. Council member told News4.

A controversial gun ban in the District has been dead for almost three years now. But once again, residents who want to carry are facing a hurdle. The only man approved to register guns in D.C. is temporarily out of business.

Charles Sykes tells WTOP that he had to close up shop because he lost the lease on his second-story office space on Good Hope Road in Southeast.

“There’s one federal firearms licensed dealer in the District. And in order to purchase a handgun, if you live in the District, you have to go through that federal firearms dealer,” D.C. Council Member At-Large Phil Mendelson tells News4’s Darcy Spencer. “If he is out of business because his lease ended, then one cannot purchase a handgun.”

Sykes is not a gun dealer, but rather is certified to register guns in D.C. Any District resident wishing to own a gun must buy it elsewhere, and go through Sykes to have the gun transferred for a fee.

Some are placing the blame squarely on the D.C. government for the halt in gun registration. They say the city has made it too difficult for other dealers to set up shop because of zoning restrictions that require dealers to be located in certain areas.

But Mendelson says it’s simply a matter of supply and demand.

“There has not been a huge demand. It’s not the kind of demand that we thought,” Mendelson told Spencer. “Therefore there isn’t the market, which is why there is one dealer.”

Sykes will have to go through a permitting process to be able to set up his registration business in a new location. And Mendelson says that process will be expedited to help get registrations started again. He also says another potential dealer has expressed interest in operating in the District.
 

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