Registered Guns Flood Wealthy Neighborhoods: Report

Tuesday, Feb 8, 2011  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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The bulk of the firearms registered in D.C. since 2008 have been purchased by residents of Washington's well-to-do neighborhoods, the Washington Post reports.

Following the repeal of the District's handgun ban in June of 2008, new weapons had to be registered with Metro Police.  Analyzing the data from this 2 and 1/2 year period, the Washington Post found that across that gun registrations were concentrated in the wealthier wards.

"Since the landmark court ruling in June 2008, records show, more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with D.C. police, most in the western half of the District. Among those guns, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase areas of Northwest.
In all of the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River - a broad swath of the city with more than 52,000 households, many of them in areas beset by poverty and drug-related violence - about 240 guns have been registered."

Ward 8 in the Southeast, historically the most violent in the District, has 140 registered guns, according to the report.  Ward 3 in the Northwest, where the neighborhoods have 10-times less violent crime, there are almost twice as many registered guns.

Aside from the 1,400 guns registered after the 2008, there are many thousands more legal weapons in the District that are have not been accounted for in decades.  Weapons that were purchased before the 1976 handgun ban were allowed to stay in the District, as long as they were registered.  Police say that 23,000 guns were grandfathered in.  But since owners have not been required to re-register since, authorities are uncertain how many of these owners and their guns have remained in the District.  Also, rifles and shotguns were still allowed into the District with a one-time registration after the handgun ban.  The whereabouts of these weapons is also uncertain today, the Washington Post said.

Lt. Jon Shelton, an officer in charge of registering weapons in D.C., said Metro Police are working to get a handle on these guns.

"We're working on all that now," Shelton told the Post. "We don't know how many of these people are still here. I mean, it could be thousands. We're not going to find out until we make them come back in."

Shelton also said that the reason why so many more guns are registered in the richer zip codes may come down to economics.

He told the paper:

"You have to figure, what are legitimate guns costing now?" he 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."

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