Published February 23, 2012
In 2008, after hearing a case challenging the restrictive gun laws in Washington, D.C., the Supreme Court ordered local officials to make it possible for law-abiding citizens to own a gun.
It was a landmark Second Amendment win for gun rights advocates, but there is growing disagreement about what's happened in the wake of that ruling from the nation's highest court.
Emily Miller, a senior opinion editor at The Washington Times and also a crime victim, decided to get a gun following the Supreme Court's decision, but says she had no idea how "frustrating" it would be.
She began the process in October 2011, and soon found there were plenty of unexpected expenses and delays.
Miller had to purchase a gun in another state, and there is only one person licensed to transport it into D.C. -- at a cost of $125. There were also multiple visits to police headquarters, fingerprinting and ballistics tests.
In addition, Miller had to complete training with a licensed firearms instructor. There are none in D.C. It ultimately took Miller nearly five months and almost $500, plus the cost of her gun.
"These gun control measures are so counterproductive because they are not stopping the criminals from getting guns," Miller says, adding, "They are stopping the law-abiding people from getting guns to protect themselves."
D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson says the District is in compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling, but acknowledges that the process can be complicated.
He is introducing legislation aimed at streamlining some of the requirements and fees, but notes that Washington will always have restrictive gun laws.
"This is the nation's capital, and we have a higher public safety burden than any other city in this country," Mendelson said.
The same conflict is playing out in Chicago, home of Otis McDonald. After trying and failing to get a gun license, McDonald fought his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2010, he won.
After the victory, McDonald expected to return home and easily obtain a legal firearm, but says that's not what happened. He describes an "expensive" and "very difficult" process, and he believes city officials are planning to make it even tougher.
Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, thinks many gun control advocates are thumbing their noses at the Supreme Court.
"The political elites are trying to nullify, reverse and gut the Supreme Court's decisions through a blizzard of legislative road blocks," LaPierre says.
He believes the end result makes gun ownership "unaffordable and impossible" for the average citizen.
Mendelson's legislation aimed at making gun ownership easier for law-abiding D.C. citizens is due before the Council sometime in March.