Alas, Heller did not show up to share his thoughts on the D.C. government’s latest response to a federal court ruling on firearms.
But also invited was Robert Melvin, grass-roots coordinator for the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, who did attend the meeting of several dozen gay Republicans at a 16th Street NW apartment house and addressed city lawmakers’ move to institute a tightly regulated system for issuing permits.
“We’re obviously going to continue to fight this,” Melvin said.
He took particular aim at the “may issue” standard under which the city plans to offer carry permits at the police chief’s discretion: “‘May issue’ means pretty much you can go through the entire process and still get denied, and … all of the rules can be changed based off of what the police chief thinks could hurt the city and could hurt residents. It’s unfortunate that that’s the case.”
Melvin said of the strictures considered in the D.C. concealed carry law, “Dear God, they’re almost worse than the Heller case.”
He continued: “We hear all the time from the other side, ‘Well, you know, it’s just going to become the Wild West, and people are just going to be shooting everywhere.’ Well, guess what, if you go and you just start shooting everywhere, and you injure someone, you’re going to go to jail, and we’re not going to stand up for you, dude, because you [expletive]d up! … You have to be responsible; it’s as simple as that. We support responsible, law-abiding gun owners.”
An attendee asked if the NRA had considered approaching Congress to take action on the city’s gun laws; Melvin noted the NRA has supported past attempts to do so, such as the recent budget amendment from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that would prevent enforcement of city gun statutes.
“Theoretically, if we get a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican in the White House, we could try and accomplish it,” Melvin said. “I can assure you, even if we do take control of the Senate, we’re sure as hell not going to be able to get the president to sign off on anything. … It’s just a tricky situation either way. But, yes, it is something that we do support, and we definitely want to see the laws become far more uniform.”
A nationwide “right to carry” reciprocity law might be one solution, Melvin suggested: “You would be able to get a permit for concealed carry in Virginia, and then you could carry here and be like, ‘Screw you, D.C., I’ll do what I want!'”
Told Thursday that an NRA representative had vowed to fight the new carry law he had just pushed through, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said, “Good for them. I would expect nothing less.”