Big city mayors often have the luxury of sharing their unfiltered thoughts in a way that politicians subject to more ideologically diverse constituencies can’t afford. This trait was on full display January 8, when recently inaugurated District of Columbia Mayor Muriel E. Bowser addressed the anti-gun Washington Interfaith Network, gathered at D.C.’s St. Augustine church. Bowser told the crowd, “You have a mayor who hates guns,” adding, “I swear to protect the Constitution and what the courts say, but I will do it in the most restrictive way as possible.”
The radical comments likely played well with her supporters. But when D.C. politicians embark on extreme rants -- or policymaking -- they would do well to remember that D.C. is not just their city. The District is also the nation’s capital, and as such, belongs to all Americans. It is a federal enclave in which the U.S. Constitution grants Congress ultimate authority. Bowser’s anti-gun proclamation will hopefully garner a very different reaction in the newly seated pro-gun Congress.
It’s not clear how Bowser intends to further burden the District’s beleaguered gun owners. The D.C. government already has one of the most onerous registration schemes in the country, has made it nearly impossible for federal firearms licensees or ranges to open up shop, and has fought the development of an accessible concealed carry regime at every step.
Unfortunately, with anti-gun zealots like Bowser in control of D.C.’s local government, repeated defeats in the federal courts have not been enough to adequately ensure the city’s residents and visitors have the practical ability to exercise their right-to-self-defense. This is why NRA-backed federal legislation to restore the rights of those in the District is essential.
NRA plans to vigorously support passage of the Second Amendment Enforcement Act (SAEA) in the new Congress. The SAEA works by overriding the D.C. City Council’s authority to regulate firearms, much like a state preemption law. The Act goes on to dismantle the District’s burdensome registration requirement, remove the ban on popular semi-automatic firearms, strike current ammunition restrictions, and eliminate oppressive storage requirements, among other changes.
In another portion of Bowser’s January 8 remarks, she stated, “If it was up to me, we wouldn’t have any handguns in the District of Columbia.” Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, that decision isn’t “up to” Bowser, or the rest of the wildly anti-gun D.C. City Council. Hopefully, with the help of the new Congress, recognition of the Second Amendment won’t be “up to” them either.