Tags: House | Republicans | Want | Get | Rid | D.C. | Gun

House Republicans Want to Get Rid of D.C. Gun Ban

Tuesday, 14 September 2004 12:00 AM

The bill also would prohibit the city's elected officers enacting "laws or regulations that discourage or eliminate the private ownership or use of firearms." With all the lawmakers on board, there are more than enough to pass the measure in the House.

For his part, Souder says the bill isn't about violating the District's usual "home rule" policies. Rather, it's a question of constitutionality; the Second Amendment supposedly guarantees the rights of all Americans to "keep and bear" firearms, and the District should be no exception.

"The fact is, we didn't allow the District to have home rule on the selling of slaves, either," Souder told the Post.

Chances for passage are less certain in the Senate, where a similar bill – sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah – is bogged down in a panel headed by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Still, advocates of overturning D.C.'s restrictive gun control laws say now is the time, since the so-called "assault weapons" ban was allowed to expire after a decade and the elections are coming in November.

Gun rights groups have tried to depict Democratic presidential contender John Kerry as an anti-gunner; by contrast, he has tried to depict himself as a friend of gun rights advocates, often posing for photos during various hunting or shooting expeditions.

But Kerry has criticized President Bush for doing too little to spur Congress into action on renewing the ban on more than a dozen kinds of semiautomatic rifles, many which physically resemble legitimate fully automatic assault weapons.

Appearing with D.C. Delegate to Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Anthony A. Williams, both Democrats, Kerry and others have said the ban has helped curb crime.

"President Bush, who promised to support an effective assault weapons ban four years ago, would apparently allow the unlawful purchase and use of such weapons even in the nation's capital," Holmes Norton said.

A spokesman for Bush's campaign, Steve Schmidt, declined to answer whether Bush supports Souder's law. The Post said he referred such questions to House leaders.

While Holmes Norton, Williams, Kerry and other Democrats say lifting the District's gun bans – as an aside to the now-vanquished ban against certain semiautomatic rifles – will worsen crime in the city, Souder and his supporters say otherwise.

The Democratic D.C. delegate said 13 children have been killed by gunfire in the city this year so far. She also pointed to the 2002 D.C. sniper attacks that killed 10 people as a reason to keep the ban in effect.

Souder, on the other hand, cited statistics indicating that crime in D.C. rose 200 percent from 1976 to 2001, while nationally the rate was only 12 percent.

"No one can argue this law's effectiveness," Souder says. "For the 14th time in 15 years, they have the Murder Capital of the World title. At some point you say, 'This isn't working.'"

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The bill also would prohibit the city's elected officers enacting "laws or regulations that discourage or eliminate the private ownership or use of firearms." With all the lawmakers on board, there are more than enough to pass the measure in the House. For his part, Souder...
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2004-00-14
Tuesday, 14 September 2004 12:00 AM
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