WASHINGTON – If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.
That's the argument of D.C. Council member Marion Barry, who on Tuesday proposed temporarily suspending the district's ban on handguns and allowing residents 90 days to buy and register guns legally.
"We are in the midst of a gun-violence epidemic," Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, was quoted saying in The Washington Times. "We need to see gun violence as an emergency in the District of Columbia."
Handguns in Washington, D.C., are illegal, but police managed to confiscate more than 2,600 last year. After the 90-day registration period, current gun restrictions would be reinstated, but Barry's proposal would up current penalties for illegal pistols from a maximum of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A second offense would double the maximum, according to the bill.
Barry spokesman Keith Perry told the Times that the bill is "an acknowledgment that people do have guns" in the District and would help police better track weapons used in the commission of crimes.
D.C. law does allow ownership of rifles and shotguns, but they must be kept at home and stored unloaded, disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or a similar device.