DC residents trying to obtain concealed carry permits seeing lengthy delays

There are number of things you have to do in order to obtain a D.C. Concealed Carry Permit, including submitting the application in-person, taking a class and getting a range certification. However, FOX 5 is told some are running into frustrations, pushing to get their licenses as they continue to face crime and trouble in their neighborhoods.

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Hakeem Henry is one of those people. He lives a few blocks away from where a mass shooting claimed three lives and injured three others on Longfellow St. NW in early September and other shootings have occurred.

"As we all know, sometimes you can just be at the wrong place at the wrong time and that’s something that I actually do worry about, especially with the recent increase in carjacking. That’s something I’m also actually worried about. So I’m always on edge," said Henry. 

As of Friday, the District is seeing a 9% increase: at least 156 homicides reported so far this year compared to 143 murders reported last year.  FOX 5 is now also learning of the 8,873 total granted D.C. Concealed Carry Permits last year, 2,743, or almost 31% of these permits were approved just year (as of September 24, 2021).

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That figure already higher than the total 2,207 Concealed Carry Permits DC Police granted last year. This also comes as the FBI announced this past week homicides rose nearly 30% nation-wide last year. The country also a surge in firearm purchases.

"More guns does not equal more safety -- if it did, the U.S. would be the safest country in the world," said Emma Hellman, a volunteer with the D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action in an emailed response to FOX 5.  

Henry told FOX 5 many of his friends encouraged him to get the permit. However, Henry ran into a roadblock in the application process. He does not yet own a firearm.

"If someone goes through the length and steps of actually obtaining the certification and training and the class and the life shooting to be able to be eligible for a carry and conceal permit, why do they already need to have the gun prior to having that?" he said, telling FOX 5 he feels some of the process is backwards.

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Arsenal Attorneys’ George Lyon told FOX 5 the law is pretty clear, in order to be granted a D.C. Concealed Carry License, you have to register a firearm. However Lyon did say there are other concerns.  

"I’ve got people way past the 90 day period who have not gotten their permits, who have not gotten their renewals," said Lyon. 

"I know that there was a some delays maybe a couple of months ago. We have redistributed some personnel down to the firearms office and that problem," said D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee when asked about the matter today.

When asked to respond to the increase of permit applications out of concern for rising homicides, the Chief told FOX 5, "I think people have a right to, you know, own a firearm legally and those are not the firearms showing up on crime scenes."

Lyon told FOX 5 the industry is still dealing with a gun shortage with some many people turning to firearms to protect themselves more recently – something he says could also impact the application process. 

"The purpose is to protect your life from imminent threat of death or bodily harm. Now the likelihood that you’re going to need the permit at any particular time is minimal. But when you need it, you need it very badly," Lyon said.

Henry is past the 90 days period but tells FOX 5 he wants to make sure make sure he is comfortable before purchasing his firearm.

"I’m still concerned about them. I’m concerned about how safely they’re being stored," said Mayor Bowser, speaking after the chief on the rise in DC Concealed Carry Permits.