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Mayor: Three Weeks Until Handguns Can Be Registered

(Photo By David Nakamura)

At a midday news conference, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said the Metropolitan Police Department will take 21 days to develop the requirements for registering a handgun in the city. During that period -- which is roughly the time expected for the Supreme Court's ruling to be implemented after more legal machinations in a lower court-- the handgun ban will continue to apply, officials said.

"As mayor, althought I am disappointed in the court's ruling and believe that more handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence, it's important to respect the court's authority and to act quickly," Fenty said.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and interim Attorney General Peter Nickles stressed that the city believes the high court's ruling does not open the way for people to carry handguns outside their homes.

"You cannot go out today and carry it around," Nickles said. "This is not open season for handguns. We're going to strictly regulate them."

The mayor's office and D.C. Council pledged to work together to develop new regulations governing trigger locks, after the high court also said the city's current trigger lock provisions are too broad.

"We're going to craft comprehensive legislation," council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said. "We're going to have the strictest handgun laws the Constitution allows."

Nickles acknowleged that it is likely that gun stores will set up inside the city and he said officials are not yet certain how the rules will apply for folks who buy the guns and need to transport them home--in other words, how will they carry it in their cars or on their person as they commute.

During the 21 day-period until the registration rules are issued, Lanier said, officers who find guns in people's homes will "use their discretion" about whether to arrest the owners.

By David A Nakamura  |  June 26, 2008; 1:33 PM ET
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