"The reason there is a discrepancy is because regular people just can't afford the time and possibly even the money to pay fees and navigate the mountains of paperwork and red tape put forth by the D.C. City Council," Arulanandam said.
Registration of handguns occurred steadily after the 2008 ruling, with about 500 guns registered each year in the District, but the 1,400 registered guns in D.C. represent a very small percentage of a city whose population was nearly 600,000 people according to 2009 Census population estimates.
"More importantly, legally registered firearms in the home generally do not impact gun violence on the streets, which, unfortunately, represents the majority of gun violence in the District of Columbia," Lanier said.
However, the police data on firearm registration raises the question: How many people in the District own guns but simply do not register them?
"There may be guns out there that aren't registered, and that's not a good situation," Helmke said. "That makes it hard to analyze the situation of where guns are in the city."
Helmke points out that studies have found that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used against the owner or a family member than it is to be used for protection, raising the need for awareness of the risks and responsibilities that accompany gun ownership.
"Guns get stolen, get misused," Helmke said. "People get angry, and people make mistakes."
"I hope that people who are buying guns understand that there are serious risks that go with ownership and serious responsibilities that go with them."