Legislation may allow gun stores to open near campus

New legislation is paving the way for gun retailers to open up throughout the city after the District’s gun ban was overturned last summer.

Temporary laws allowing handguns sales in each of the District’s four quadrants are close to being made permanent, after the D.C. Zoning Commission reapproved them Thursday night. The laws allow gun sales in commercial and industrial zones in the District, but prohibit the sale of guns in homes. They also outlaw gun stores within 300 feet of any residence, church, school or playground.

The existing temporary legislation, which was quickly enacted after the Supreme Court overturned the gun ban in June, required a 600-foot space between stores and residences. The current draft of the laws reduces that distance by 300 feet.

Lt. Jon Shelton, manager of the firearms registration section of the Metropolitan Police Department, told Zoning Commission members at Thursday’s public hearing that D.C. has a policy that prohibits storefront operations selling guns.

“Gun shops in the District are unique from elsewhere in the country,” Shelton said. “What we have here is a no-storefront operation. You can’t even have a sign saying you’re selling guns. You’ll have an incognito office within an office.”

He also said that while there has been a significant increase in the number of applications submitted to his office for handgun licenses since the Supreme Court decision, he has seen virtually no requests from people seeking to set up retail shops for guns. For that reason, D.C. residents who want to purchase a handgun must still go to Maryland or Virginia and then have it shipped to a District dealer, since a gun must be purchased from one’s home jurisdiction.

“There have been a couple federal applicants but nothing has come to fruition,” Shelton said of the relatively low interest he has received in opening gun shops in the District.

The commission will revisit the amendments for a final vote later this month.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.