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Bill Introduced to Restore the Right of Self-Defense in D.C.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

FAIRFAX, VA - The "District of Columbia Personal Protection Act," a bill that seeks to restore the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding D.C. residents, was introduced today in the United States Senate. This legislation was introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The introduction of this legislation comes on the heels of recent FBI statistics that reveal D.C. has once again reclaimed the dubious title of the murder capital of the U.S. The legislation would not undermine any existing law directed at prosecuting unlawful conduct. It would also leave in place strict penalties for gun possession by criminals and for violent crimes committed with guns. "D.C.`s draconian gun ban has effectively stripped its law-abiding residents of their basic right to defend themselves and their loved ones," said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). "This restriction has left the good people of our nation`s capital defenseless and at the mercy of ruthless violent criminals who plague this city. The ‘District of Columbia Personal Protection Act` will remedy this dangerous injustice." Under D.C.`s current gun laws, all handguns are banned unless they were owned and registered in the District before 1977. Residents of the District, even the few remaining legal handgun owners, are prohibited from carrying their handguns in their own homes. Rifles and shotguns that can be legally registered and owned in the District must be stored unloaded, disassembled or locked, rendering them useless for self-defense, unless the gun is kept at a place of business. "Apparently D.C.`s elected officials believe it`s more important to let people protect their business assets, than to protect their homes and families. The right to defend oneself and one`s family is unconditional. The legislation Senator Hatch has introduced today will restore that fundamental right for our capitol`s citizens," added Chris W. Cox, chief lobbyist of the NRA. Contrary to any "home rule" objections, Congress clearly has the power to fix this problem. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "[to exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever]" over the District. When Congress chose to delegate home rule to the District in the 1970s, it specified that legislation by the District must be "consistent with the Constitution of the United States" and "reserve[d] the right, at any time, to exercise its constitutional authority as legislature for the District, by enacting legislation for the District on any subject." District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act (P.L. 93-198), secs. 302 and 601. The 132 year-old NRA is the nation`s oldest civil rights group, and advocates enforcement of existing laws to prosecute and punish violent criminals. The NRA is the nation`s leader in teaching gun safety and promoting marksmanship among law enforcement officers nationwide. The Association has approximately 4 million members across America, including the District of Columbia. --nra-- Read the Press Release from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.