DC Gun Ban to be Repealed?


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rrader
July 16, 2003, 10:51 PM
While they're at it they might consider repealing the rest of D.C.'s home rule authority.

Hatch Introduces Legislation to Repeal District's Handgun Ban
Norton Calls Bill an Assault on Home Rule


By Spencer S. Hsu and Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 16, 2003; 7:12 PM


The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants District residents to be able to own handguns, reviving the pitched debate over gun control in a city with some of the toughest restrictions in the nation.

The D.C. Personal Protection Act, introduced Tuesday by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), would repeal the District's ban on handguns, end strict registration requirements for ammunition and other firearms and lift prohibitions on the possession or carrying of weapons at homes and workplaces. The legislation would also loosen the District's definition of machine guns, possession of which is now subject to additional sanction.

While the District's 1976 gun law has been a frequent target of gun rights activists, it has withstood assaults as recently as 1999, when the House of Representatives failed to enact national gun control legislation that included its repeal. But the involvement of Hatch, a senior Senate Republican leader, and the recent success of congressional candidates supported by gun rights groups provide fresh impetus for a showdown over gun limits in the nation's capital.

Hatch said congressional repeal of the District laws was needed to enforce the constitutional right to bear arms.

"It is time to restore the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and to defend their families against murderous predators," stated Hatch, "Try to imagine the horror that [a] victim felt when he faced a gun-toting criminal and could not legally reach for a firearm to protect himself."

According to U.S. Justice Department statistics, the District's per capita murder rate hovered between third and seventh-highest from 1994 to 2001. Hatch called the District prohibition "as ineffective and deplorable as it is unconstitutional."

District officials, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) and police chief Charles H. Ramsey opposed the legislation. Norton said the Hatch bill launches a second assault on home rule, citing President Bush's plan to introduce a national pilot school voucher program in the District this fall. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on a $40 million plan for vouchers and public schools today.

"The District is being targeted on guns for the same reason that it was targeted on vouchers -- because we are helpless without senators and the full panoply of legal rights to protect ourselves," Norton said, adding that citizens would be placed in the line of fire to placate an interest group. "The only thing that would cause more murder and mayhem in this city is allowing freer access to guns."

Council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), who chairs the Judiciary Committee of the Council, called the legislation a distraction. "I can't believe a senator of his stature would waste time on something like that," she said.

The House and Senate committee chairmen with jurisdiction over the bill -- Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) declined to comment today. It is unlikely that Congress would take up the bill before members recess in August.

In one of the farthest-reaching gun-control laws in the country, the District effectively barred anyone but law enforcement officials and residents who already owned registered weapons from owning a handgun after Sept. 24, 1976. Rifles and shotguns are carefully licensed.

That limit, combined with a surge in violent, drug-related crime in the 1980s, have put the District at the center of an ongoing debate over the effectiveness of such laws.

In the 1999 handgun ban debate, D.C. police reported that 1,100, or 88 percent of D.C. homicides from the previous four years were gun-related, and about 8,700 robberies were committed with firearms.

Police also reported at the time that there were 99,000 legally registered handguns, shotguns and rifles in the District, while they recovered 2,368 illegal weapons in 1998.

Nearly half of the guns used in D.C. crimes are purchased in neighboring states, police said in 1999, with 23 percent sold in Virginia and 20 percent sold in Maryland.

Matt Nosanchuk, litigation director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control advocacy group, said there is no evidence that greater access to guns reduces crime. "If Senator Hatch really believes that people are safer when they are carrying handguns, then why doesn't he advocate lifting the ban on bringing weapons into the U.S. Capitol?" Nosanchuk said.

Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the Fairfax-based National Rifle Association, called Hatch's legislation a positive step: "D.C.'s draconian gun ban has effectively stripped the city's law abiding residents of the basic right to defend themselves and their loves ones."


© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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XLMiguel
July 16, 2003, 11:04 PM
Hmmmmm. All that 'gun violence' even with some of the strictest 'gun conrol' laws in the country should be an operative example to the meanest intellect among them that 'gun control' is a joke since criminals don't obey laws. It's clearly time to give the honest citizen the means to protect themselves and fight back when necessary. Criminals are basically cowards and opertunists. Once a few of them get popped [righteously], I suspect that there will be a sea change in DC crime stats.

rrader
July 16, 2003, 11:33 PM
Once a few of them get popped [righteously], I suspect that there will be a sea change in DC crime stats.

It would be pretty strange to find D.C. to be more accomodating to RKBA than Maryland certainly, and if Hatch has his way, maybe even Virginia. Might change the demographics in D.C. pretty rapidly also as a lot of suburban whites would move in from Manassas and Frederick if the city were a little less of a crime ridden socialist toilet.

Dorian
July 16, 2003, 11:47 PM
The only thing that would cause more murder and mayhem in this city is allowing freer access to guns

You ever just want to REALLY smack someone?

Jeeper
July 17, 2003, 12:02 AM
I'll put my tinfoil hat on for a second:

There might be more to this than meets the eye. THis could be the NRA working thru Hatch to keep the CATO lawsuit for going all the way up. SInce the NRA lost its petition to combine the suits this might be a "plan B"

Gray Peterson
July 17, 2003, 06:44 AM
Bush would definitely sign this law, I think. That's more than we can say about Al Gore and Clinton. :p

rrader
July 17, 2003, 07:12 AM
There might be more to this than meets the eye. THis could be the NRA working thru Hatch to keep the CATO lawsuit for going all the way up. SInce the NRA lost its petition to combine the suits this might be a "plan B"

Sounds plausible. Hatch is all over the map on enough issues to make you wonder if he is really a conservative, i.e, whether he really supports RKBA or has come to some understanding on it with his "good friend" Ted Kennedy.

(Thats not to say there aren't a few folks from the left side of the political spectrum who support RKBA)

Jim March
July 17, 2003, 07:14 AM
Jeeper is on to something.

And the grabbers might WANT to go along, because they're probably as scared of a USSC decision as the NRA is, if not moreso.

But the grabbers *can't* go along, because if DC's crime rate drops, it'll be a major nail in their argument's coffin. Possibly the final one.

So my take: even if it screws up the Levy suit, I want this bill to happen.

themic
July 17, 2003, 09:31 AM
yeah, tough call, because CATO has such a strong case.

still, you really can't argue with good legislation that returns rights to the people.

I'm all for it. ESPECIALLY as someone who can't carry hardly ever because I live next to that place, and have to squeek into it or onto the GW parkway every now and then.

Bartholomew Roberts
July 17, 2003, 09:49 AM
Nice bias at the Post though... check out this line:

The legislation would also loosen the District's definition of machine guns, possession of which is now subject to additional sanction.

Right now the District defines a machine gun as any self-loading weapon capable of holding 13 rounds or more. Hatch's bill just makes the definition of a machinegun the same as elsewhere in federal law

But note how the no-good gun-grabbing SOBs at the Post frame it as a "loosening the District's definition of machine guns" with no further comments.

:barf:

Stampede Sheeple! Stampede! Machineguns in the streets! Booga Booga! :what:

EDITED TO CORRECT ERROR:

I had mistakenly assumed that DCs classification of machineguns covered all firearms with greater than 12 round magazines. It only covers semi-autos CAPABLE of accepting magazines (fixed or detachable) greater than 12 rounds. So the Marlin Model 60 is now a machinegun in DC.

El Tejon
July 17, 2003, 10:04 AM
Machine guns in the streets? No, they're back at the FBP in the safes.:confused: Oh, I see . . .:D

Excellent bill. Would set a great precedent for nationwide preemption legislation!!!:cool:

Partisan Ranger
July 17, 2003, 10:38 AM
The VPC stooge says there is no evidence that more guns reduce crime.

The lad must not get out much.

BrokenPaw
July 17, 2003, 10:55 AM
I'm all for it. ESPECIALLY as someone who can't carry hardly ever because I live next to that place, and have to squeek into it or onto the GW parkway every now and then.This bill won't help you on the GW Parkway, will it? That's not covered by DC law, but by NPS regs, yes?

-BP, who avoids DC for more reasons than the self-defense-unfriendly environment.

Jeeper
July 17, 2003, 12:09 PM
So my take: even if it screws up the Levy suit, I want this bill to happen.

This is a really tough call. I tend to agree with Jim that the Bill would be nice. The only problem is that a DC challenge would have been nice to avoid the whole incorparation issue that exists elsewhere.

Kharn
July 17, 2003, 12:26 PM
With the way the Senate is currently bottlenecked, we might have a while to wait...

Kharn

Al in Md
July 17, 2003, 12:51 PM
I like the bill as stated in the Wash. Post. I do not see the bill passing without the carry provisions gutted out. Either way it screams "Gun Control doesn't Work" rather loudly. It would be a victory for RKBA. Al

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