Cavs Guard Delonte West: Desperado?
Thursday evening, NBA star, Delonte West was riding his Can-Am Spyder on the Washington Beltway in Largo, MD when he made an unsafe lane change. Bad enough, except that he cut off a county cop who responded by pulling West over. West dutifully informed the officer that he had a handgun in his belt. The Washington Post reported that this disclosure prompted the officer to call for backup. Officers then discovered a total of three firearms in West’s possession, the Beretta 9mm West informed the officer about, a Ruger .357 magnum on his leg, and inside a guitar case of all places, a shotgun.
West was taken into custody for the two handguns, the shotgun was legal. If you are like me, you may have wondered what exactly did West do wrong? Prince George Police Spokesman, Major Andy Ellis, never explained this to my satisfaction. He told us that West had been charged with two criminal counts of carrying a handgun. He did not say West was carrying unregistered guns or that he lacked permits. He did not even say that the guns in question were illegal in DC. I noticed West being condemned by both the press and the blogosphere. Sure, West has a history of depression, but really, what does that have to do with anything? The only reason his past depression would be relevant, would be if we were to assume he was off to kill himself? Talk about overkill!
Seriously. While I am no gun aficionado, I could not understand West’s crime. Major Ellis cited no specific law. Thus, I decided a little research was in order. My curiosity was peaked. All I needed was a little inductive reasoning. In the end, I learned that perhaps the issue, at least for me, is not whether Delonte West was playing Desperado, but rather the handgun laws in DC.
I’m unsure if Largo, MD and DC have similar attitudes on guns but I suspect this is the case. DC has some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. In 1976 guns were completely outlawed there. The law, known as the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, remained on the DC books until the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the law unconstitutional in 2007. The city, determined to disarm law-abiding citizens, fought back, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. SCOTUS found that the DC law violated the Second Amendment not only by the outright ban but through a requirement that all guns in DC be restricted to homes, unloaded, and disassembled. You can see the implication, right?
Following the ruling DC was forced to retire the Firearms Act, but they still retained the right to register guns. Herein lies the root of Delonte West’s problem. Washington DC retains its unconstitutional firearms ban informally through the registration process. It is an unofficial gun ban because DC just doesn’t issue gun permits easily or in a timely manner. The supposed five day process has been reported to take months if not rejected.
Just this past July, an amendment to a defense bill would have allowed concealed weapons permits to be valid across state lines. However, in a 58 to 39 vote the amendment was rejected. Therefore, regardless of whether West legally registered and obtained permits in Cleveland or elsewhere, DC would not recognize those. Case closed. Isn’t it interesting that not one press outlet offered a reason for West’s overnight incarceration. Now it makes sense.
Now why was West so heavily armed? Beats me but I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with his past depression. Maybe his father nailed it when he pointed out how dangerous the streets of DC are. After all, now we’ve established only the criminals in DC have guns.