Part 1 DC Taxi Commissioner Stands Up


Larry Pratt

In late November of 1999, according to the Washington Times (11/23/99), Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams hosted a town hall meeting at a local high school with city cab drivers and residents. The topic was the safety of District of Columbia cabbies. At this get-together, Mayor Williams told more than 500 taxi drivers: “You have a right to earn a living and to be safe on your job.” To supposedly make cabbies safer, he suggested, among other things, that taxi cabs install safety shields between cabbie and passenger and that they be equipped with an electronic tracking system.

But — God bless her — Sandra Seegars, a courageous, outspoken and knowledgeable member of the DC Taxicab Commission (DCTC), has a better idea that would really make cabbies safer: allow them to keep and bear arms for self-defense. There are 8,000 licensed taxi drivers in the District of Columbia; 6,000 are actually driving.

In a statement at a recent meeting of the DCTC, Seegars urged that “the self-employed driver be permitted to carry a firearm, instead of having a commissioned special officer ride along with him or her during duty hours.” Making her case, she said the DC gun ban has “failed” and criminals who are armed “have the city at bay, whereas, the law-abiding citizens and business persons are under siege.”

Seegars said cab drivers need to have guns for self-defense because, among other reasons, the law makes it mandatory that cabbies must pick up anyone who hails them, and take them to any part of Washington DC, “regardless of the high crime rate” of the area.

Noting that “every business person should be afforded the opportunity to protect his or her business, taxicab drivers included,” Seegars, citing a 1981 DC Court Of Appeals ruling, said another reason for allowing cab drivers to be armed is because “the government has no obligation to protect either those who live or do business under its jurisdiction.” Thus, taxi drivers “have a right to resort to their own means and devices to protect themselves” without being “classified as criminals and [being] treated as such.”

Seegars also says: “Generally speaking, the police department does not treat taxicab drivers with respect. Oftentimes, when a taxicab driver calls for police assistance, and if one shows up, they opt to write tickets on the taxicab for minor taxicab violations, or harass the driver, instead of focusing on the crime that the driver called them about. With the lack of police protection for the taxicab drivers, this is a prime business to be armed.”

In an interview, Seegars says she decided to advocate the right of cabbies to keep and bear arms for self-defense a few months ago when a taxi driver was robbed, his car hit a tree, and the robber ran away, leaving his gun in the cab. She says witnesses saw the robber go into a house but police refused to knock on the door.

“So,” says Seegars, “if the police are not going to protect taxi drivers, these drivers are going to have to protect themselves. Besides, when cab drivers are the victims of crime, and do call the police, and if they show up, they usually harass the cab drivers! They say things like: ‘Where’s your manifest? You don’t have the proper this or that. You don’t have your seat belt on.’ They give the driver a couple of tickets while he bleeds to death.”

Needless to say — and I’ll have more to say about this in my next column — the anti-Second Amendment, anti-self-defense, gun grabbers are foaming at the mouth over Sandra Seegar’s proposal that cab drivers ought to be allowed to arm themselves. But, regardless of whether Seegars ultimately succeeds or not, she’s already a winner. This lady has already proven that she is a true profile in courage by standing up for the Second Amendment in a city whose laws blatantly violate this part of our Constitution.