DC's Only Gun Source

Emily gets her gun

Room 1140 on the DMV hallway is marked with a small sign “CS Exchange” and a taped-up paper that warns away anyone who might be looking to fight parking ticket.  Behind the nondescript brown door is the private office of Washington D.C.’s only legal gun broker: Charles Sykes.

You can’t just go out and legally buy a gun in the nation’s capital. If you purchase a pistol from another state, whether in person or over the Internet, you can’t ship it to your residence in the District, nor can you drive it back over the Potomac river.

In the 21-page packet of papers given to potential gun owners from the Firearm Registration Section, there is not a single word to explain how one would go about bringing a purchased gun into the city after registering it. The one clue the police do provide is a Xerox copy of Mr. Sykes’s business card stapled to the registration form.

Last week, I went to find his office, which is also in the same massive government building as police headquarters. The door was closed and locked. I waited in the hallway awhile until a gruff man came up to me and asked,  “What are you doing?”

“I’m just waiting to talk to Mr. Sykes about getting a gun,” I said. He stared at me hard.

“Do you have an appointment?” he asked. I said that I did not, but I was just hoping to talk to him briefly.

“I am Charles Sykes,” he said.

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