Today (Oct. 16th, 2014), DC AAP Board Member, Dr. Ankoor Shah, testified on behalf of DC AAP on the License to Carry a Pistol Amendment Act of 2014. The legislation was drafted by the DC Council in response to a July federal court ruling striking down the District’s ban on carrying handguns outside a person’s home. District officials are contemplating appealing this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In the meantime, the Council must enact legislation to provide a licensing mechanism for carry permits. The Council has modeled the bill after strong bills from New York, New Jersey and Maryland, seeking to enact the strictest licensing requirements possible that can withstand constitutional challenge. Today’s public hearing provided an opportunity for citizens and representatives of organizations to provide comments on the bill and make recommendations and requests for changes to the bill’s language before it becomes final.
Dr. Shah’s testimony reflected AAP’s belief that the absence of guns in homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. Dr. Shah implored the Council to keep DC’s children in the forefront of their minds as the Council refines this legislation. Dr. Shah gave an emotional appeal, sharing his devastating clinical experience with a five-year-old patient who found her father’s gun, loaded and unlocked, and accidently shot herself in the face through her head. The entire hearing can be viewed at the following link: http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=28&clip_id=2407 Dr. Shah’s testimony begins at approximately 1 hour 52 minutes.
DC AAP Executive Director, Nancy Schoenfeld, also submitted written testimony on behalf of the chapter, recommending specific legislative changes for strengthening the bill, including prohibiting the carrying of licensed pistols into places of worship; adding specific training requirements addressing children’s exposure to guns, safe storage and child access prevention; and adding civil liability in addition to criminal liability where a child gains access to an unsecured firearm, among others.