I want a gun. I don’t feel safe living in Washington, D.C. and want to protect myself. I’m starting today by going down to City Hall to find the gun permit office to tell them, “I want a gun.” This series will follow me as I navigate the city bureaucracy and outdated rules in order to legally buy a firearm.
My desire for a gun started when I had to face down over a dozen criminals on an empty cul de sac in Washington, D.C., armed only with a Blackberry.
It was New Year’s Day 2010, and I’d been staying in the house to dog sit for friends who were on vacation. I’d returned from walking the dog when I saw a man coming from the house.
“What are you doing?” I asked, sensing something was off with the situation. The Golden Retriever just stood next to me with a slack leash.
“We’re here to clean the pool,” the man said. He looked nervous and his eyes were blood-shot.
I was pretty sure my friends hadn’t called in a swimming pool emergency during the middle of winter. “No, we didn’t call for you,” I said.
“Oh, then it must be the house next door,” he said, smiling nervously. He turned and walked away quickly.
I’d left the front door unlocked since I was walking the dog for less than ten minutes. (I know, lesson learned.) After the man left, I was still suspicious so I went inside, grabbed my Blackberry and clicked on the icon for the camera. I walked down the street, and as I turned the corner, I saw about 15 scruffy young men standing around two pickup trucks. We were at the end of a woody, dead-end road.
I nervously held up my Blackberry to take a quick photo of them and the license plates. Suddenly, the blood-shot-eyed guy darted out, blocking the shot. “What are you doing?” he asked. I looked around at all the men staring at me and was suddenly scared.
“Nothing, I’m um, just going now,” I said as I put my Blackberry down instead of taking the picture around him and went home.
Hours later, I was at a New Year’s Day party when my phone rang. It was my credit card company asking if my card was in my possession because there were odd charges on it. I looked at my wallet and saw that all my cash was gone and the cards. It suddenly dawned on me that the “pool guy” had been inside the house.
I called 911 and the D.C. police met me at the house.When they heard the story, they called in a detective. I got a long lecture about facing down criminals alone. They searched the big house top-to-bottom to look for windows or doors left unlocked by the bad guys to come back for more. Now I was scared. I had promised to watch my friend’s dog, which meant I was spending the night.
I was alone in an empty house with a useless dog. I spent the night in the master bedroom with a dresser pushed up against the inside of the door. I didn’t sleep much. I kept thinking how safer I would feel if I had a gun next to the bed.
The next day, I took to Twitter to ask about how to get a gun. The replies were disappointing: “No 2nd amend in D.C.” “Only one guy can sell weapons in DC- good luck with that.” “Call the NRA.” I knew that the Supreme Court had recently overturned the Washington’s gun ban, so I didn’t understand why gun owners were so down on my idea. My friends came back the next day, but I sill wondered why I couldn’t get a gun.
The following summer, D.C. mayoral candidate and then-city council Chairman Vincent Gray was at my neighborhood picnic. I approached Mr. Gray as he was glad-handing in the basketball courts and told him that I wanted two things: to stop the parking ticket assault in this city and a gun.
His smile faded. “A what?” he asked, leaning down to hear me.
“A GUN. I want a gun.” I said emphatically. “I don’t know what’s going on in this city, but apparently no one is listening to the Supreme Court.”
“Well, um, Emily is it? Let me introduce you to my campaign chairman,” Mr. Gray said, leading me away toward a guy with a clipboard. That would be the politician’s equivalent of “talk to the hand.” Mr. Gray went on to be elected mayor of D.C.
Recently, current city council chairman Kwame Brown came to The Washington Times for a roundtable interview. After he’d been asked about the budget, lottery, ethics and education, I raised my hand. “Can I ask you about guns in DC?”
“You say guns?” the chairman asked.
“Guns,” I replied as I held up both of my hands in the shape of a handgun, like they do in “Charlie’s Angels.”
“Oh you used both your fingers,” Mr. Brown said, laughing. “You’re a shooter, you use both of them.”
I didn’t laugh with him. “Well, I’m trying to get a gun,” I said.
“You’re trying to get a gun?” he repeated.
This is not going to be easy.
I want a gun to protect myself, but it seems my city government officials may work against me. There’s only one way to find out if that’s the case and that by going through all the hoops. Keep watching this space or follow me on Twitter to see how the story unfolds.
Next in the series: Inside D.C.’s Gun Registry
“Emily Gets Her Gun” is a new series following Senior Editor Emily Miller as she legally tries to get her hands on a gun in the nation’s capital. You can also follow her on Twitter @EmilyMiller.