On a good day, purchasing a firearm as a resident of Washington, D.C. requires a lot of paperwork. Oh, and a $125 transfer fee plus another $50 or so to register your gun with the police department.
But since March 14th, it’s been impossible to get the transfer done because the District’s only Federal Firearms Licensee, Charles Sykes, decided to close up shop because he became overwhelmed with business due to the COVID-19 gun boom.
“I was getting so inundated with firearms coming in, it got to be too much,” Sykes told The Washington Post. “I had to stop accepting them. Any firearms that come in now, they automatically get sent back.”
Sykes lost the lease on his original shop in 2011 and has since been operating from the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Department, according to dcist.com. Rent for his space there is reportedly just $100 per month. But it’s a good spot because guns must also be registered in the same building.
The recent flood of firearms sales just proved too much for his operation. Every handgun purchased by a DC resident must be transferred through an FFL in the District. Because Sykes was the only FFL, he got all the business.
“It looked like it was going to continue, that there was no end in sight,” he said. “A person has to know his limitations, and I know mine.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office was aware of this problem and started working for a solution.
“Last month, the city’s sole commercial federal firearms licensee (FFL) abruptly ceased accepting any new business,” the city’s website reports. “MPD and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice immediately started working on options to meet residents’ Second Amendment requirements, while also ensuring public safety.”
Bowser issued an order allowing the Metropolitan Police Department to function as an FFL while there is no other commercial FFL in the city. The transfer fee will still be $125.
All the requirements and information for making FFL transfers and registering new guns are listed on the Metropolitan Police Department’s website. Unfortunately, it looks like FFL transfers and registrations are located on different floors of the building.
Second Amendment groups put pressure on the mayor’s office to find a solution to Sykes closure. It’s yet to be seen how such groups will react to the city’s police department being in charge of FFL transfers, which is a commercial venture in other cities and not a function of local government.
In the meantime, it looks like there’s an opportunity open for an FFL in Washington, D.C. — provided you can get around the strict zoning requirements for opening a gun store and get the authority back from the police.