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D.C. Refining of Gun Laws--Offensively Stupid

Friday, July 18, 2008

Only a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Heller case, which struck down D.C.'s ban on handguns and allowed having a firearm in operable condition at home, D.C. has passed "emergency" law and new police regulations intended to retain as much of the ban and storage requirement as possible.  The law was crafted in consultation with the Brady Campaign, according to the Washington Post. 

There are many objectionable features to the new D.C. law and regulations, but two stand out as particularly egregious.  Though the Supreme Court ruled that D.C. could not ban handguns, the new rules would still ban all or most semi-automatic pistols.  And in spite of the fact that the court ruled that D.C. cannot ban the use of guns for protection in the home, the District still prohibits having a gun loaded and ready unless an attack within your home is imminent or underway. 

Without Congress' intervention, D.C. can violate the intent of the Heller decision indefinitely.  That is because under "Home Rule," D.C.'s emergency bills are not subject to review by Congress, and D.C. can reinstitute "emergency" laws every 90 days.  The city's officials are already thumbing their noses at the Supreme Court. 

"They're doing everything that they can to not comply with the Supreme Court ruling," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, who characterized the new law as "a joke."  "Unless the criminal calls you beforehand and lets you know he's coming over ... you're going to be left defenseless." 

In a true case of irony, and a fine example of the absurdity of the District's "compliance" with the Supreme Court's decision, Dick Heller, the man who brought the lawsuit against the District, and on whose case the Court ruled, was among the first in line this week to apply for a handgun permit.  But when he tried to register his semi-automatic pistol, he was rejected!  Heller's gun has a seven round magazine.  D.C.'s law defines any semi-automatic as a "machine gun" if it is "capable of" firing more than 12 shots without reloading.  D.C. police interpret this as banning any "bottom-loading" semi-automatic handgun, regardless of its actual capacity.  That's outrageous. 

As things currently stand, a handful of arrogant politicians in a city that accounts for less than two-tenths of one percent of the population of the country, and less than two one-thousandths of one percent of the country's land mass, appear determined to disregard a decision of the country's highest court.  Therefore, it's time for them to be taught as much about the Constitution's Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 (which defines Congress's total authority over the District of Columbia), as they were recently taught about the Second Amendment. 

In an effort to remedy the District's arrogant flouting of the Supreme Court's clear mandates, Representative Mark Souder (R-Ind.) recently introduced H. Res. 1331, a rule to govern House consideration of a modified version of H.R. 1399--the "District of Columbia Personal Protection Act."  (H.R. 1399 was introduced in March of 2007 and has 247 cosponsors.  For more information on H.R. 1399 and its Senate companion bill, S. 1001 by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), please go to www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=72&issue=020

H. Res. 1331 would force House consideration of H.R. 1399 if activated by a discharge petition, which will require 218 congressional signatures.  It would provide for speedy consideration of legislation to enforce the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller by repealing the provisions of the D.C. Code that were at issue in that case, and by preventing the District from enacting the very restrictions they are now trying to foist on their residents' Right to Keep and Bear Arms. 

NRA-ILA is fully committed to restoring the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding residents of Washington, D.C., and will fight this critically important battle until victory is in hand. 

Please be sure to contact your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121, and urge him or her to press Congressional leadership to bring H.R. 1399 to the House floor.  It's time to nullify, once and for all, the unconstitutional gun laws that Washington, D.C.'s government has imposed on D.C. residents and other Americans for more than 30 years.

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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.