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More Guns, Less Democracy

   That a bunch -- well, a huge number -- of Republicans in Congress would come up with the idea of appealing to their red-meat base back home by ripping up the District of Columbia's gun ban and forcing the city to welcome all weapons could hardly be considered a surprise.

   But the latest effort by the GOP gents on the Hill to have their way with Washington, D.C. does come with a twist: The Republicans are split between those who just want more guns in the District and those who believe that all that rhetoric about states' rights and local control might actually apply to people who live in the nation's capital. So, we have the spectacle of Virginia Sen. George Allen arguing that it's time to let a million guns bloom across the District, while Virginia Rep. Tom Davis says no, we may ourselves love guns, but the people of the District and their elected representatives decided they didn't want to be awash in guns, and that's their right as Americans.

   You will notice that there are precious few, if any, Democrats making the latter argument. In fact, the Dems turn out to be the ones who oppose the same Tom Davis' proposal to give the District of Columbia residents the right to vote for a member of Congress.  Davis  is a true believer in the basics of democracy; sadly, the Dems will not come along, arguing that Washington should have voting rights, but not this way, not now. Are people like John Kerry saying this because Davis is a Republican or because they really don't think we who live in Washington should have voting rights?

   The Democrats have played the District's voters for decades, much as Major League Baseball  played the District -- mixing sports metaphors here -- always holding the football in front of us and then, a la Lucy, pulling it away just as we run up to kick it.

   But we finally got baseball and we will finally get the right to vote. Just this week, the European  security  conference held in Washington voted to tell the U.S. government that it is long since time to grant Washingtonians voting rights. The day will come, but before that happens, we'll likely get an infusion of a few hundred thousand guns, courtesy of the gents on the Hill.

-- Marc Fisher

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 6, 2005; 8:01 AM ET
 
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Comments

Ya gotta love how the legislative branch of Our Government treats the US Constitution like the menu at a Chinese resturant, as far as the "citizens" of Washington DC are concerned.

"Yeah, I guess we'll try the second ammendement this time, and I think we'll have another round of the first Article, but please remember to hold the voting rights, and oh yeah, let's have more of that pork..."

bc

Posted by: bc | July 6, 2005 8:32 AM | Report abuse

i've never understood how the chief of police can get up and say "don't do this" and still be overridden by the GOP in Congress. i mean, he's the CHIEF OF POLICE, not some crazy anarachist!

besides, as anyone can tell you, the DC ban only applies to *handguns* not to hunting rifles. so any hunter in the district can legally own a rifle, and drive out to rock creek park to shoot deer.

oh, except for the second part.

Posted by: edward | July 6, 2005 9:00 AM | Report abuse

on an unrelated note, it would've been cool this week to have the WaPo IT Ninjas redo the main Achenblog image so that it had your name tagged over Joel's. Maybe with a mustache too.

i for one, long for the day dc gets voting rights and the return of the Ear No One Reads.

Posted by: edward | July 6, 2005 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm personally in favor of guns. But that's because I shoot them and am a member of a shooting range so I can perfect my aim with both rifles and handguns (.38 Supra my handgun of choice)--and the only one I am not readily able to use. We've got a .45 and a .22, but I have to rely on the kindness of men at the club who say, "Wanna try something easier than a .45?" Why, yes sir, I do. Thank you for playing into my hand like that.

Posted by: Sara | July 6, 2005 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Um. That is so hot.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm not even going to go into the hypocrisy of members of Congress who live in Georgetown and who don't ever have to be exposed to any danger in this city having the gall to expose DC residents to more gun crime in order to curry favor with the right wing base.

I actually live in a neighborhood where several muggings and at least one shooting have occurred in the past few months, but I am not afraid and I will never own a gun. As a single white woman in a majority black neighborhood, my best protection is this radical concept called kindness. I speak to people on the street, I smile at people, I talk to their children, I bull$hit with them. Frankly, I think the problem is that people put too much stock in the ability of a gun to protect them from PERCEIVED evils and too little in the humanity of other races, ethnicities, or social classes. If you act like the world is coming to get you, it will.

Posted by: TA | July 6, 2005 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the proposal Davis is pushing does something else besides give the District a vote. It gives Utah, reddest of the red states, another vote also. Tom Davis not a bad guy, but he's not helping the residents of D.C. out of the goodness of his heart.
I'm personally not in favor of guns. I've fired my share- rifles, shotguns, handguns, even a cap and ball pistol once, but don't expect to ever shoot another. I worked in a medical school for nine years. During that time I worked in four different hospitols and the state medical examiner's office. I saw children shot by their parents, parents shot by their children, children shot by other children. I saw hunting accidents, gun cleaning accidents, guys shot by jealous husbands (and wives), store clerks shot in robbery attempts, drive bys, military wounds at the VA, cops shot by the bad guys and bad guys shot by the cops, and suicides, lots of suicides. Got a problem? Sick? Lonely? Mad? Impotent? Stick a gun in your mouth, under your chin, to your temple, over your heart(that's the one that's hard to hit). Pull the trigger with a string, with your finger, with your toe. After nine years I left that job and I am not in favor of guns.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 6, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Well, do you accept the compromise (one new vote red and blue) or do you stand up for the principle (DC should get a vote because it's part of America, no trades required)?

I don't think either stand is unreasonable. As usual Fischer oversimplifies, but, hey, he's a blogger this week.

Posted by: MAG | July 6, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

You used to be a lot funnier.

Posted by: Dave R | July 6, 2005 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Just because he's serious for one day doesn't necessarily mean he has lost his sense of humor . . . but then, this is really one of my first exposures to Marc so maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about. But I felt the need to jump to our guest blogger's defense. His continued blogging in Joel's absence is saving my life, as my job gets worse by the minute this week.

Posted by: Sara | July 6, 2005 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Sara says: "His continued blogging in Joel's absence is saving my life, as my job gets worse by the minute this week."

After reading Sara's post about guns, I'd really be worried if I were her boss....

Posted by: jarmuschguy | July 6, 2005 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The state of Florida recently passed a law that says you can shoot someone if you feel threatened by them. The Chief of Police of Miami said something like, "I can see what they are trying to do, but they don't realize the implications; it's not a good idea." I felt the same as edward, that the legislators should take him seriously and realize that he knows more about it than they do.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 6, 2005 10:46 AM | Report abuse

That Florida law could cause some serious havoc. I'm short. I could feel threatened when tall people loom over me. But it would be a very mild form of "threatened." Still, someone could argue (if they were crazy) that I was within my rights to shoot any tall person that loomed over me in Florida. This is a stretch and a very extreme example, I know.

Posted by: Sara | July 6, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the Davis proposal is not bad, because it's the only *legal* way to get DC citizens a representative without amending the constitution. Essentially, since the House has full control over its members, it doesn't need to pass an amendment.

As someone who has found a discarded gun in their yard in the past year, I'm definitely in favor of keeping the ban. Besides, since it only applies to handguns, hunters don't need to worry about "losing their rights". A well-armed militia isn't composed of people toting handguns around.

Posted by: edward | July 6, 2005 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Sara, and it's not a stretch at all to think that if you are a gang member and a member of a rival gang approaches you, you are seriously threatened. I don't think we want that kind of "open season" in Miami and elsewhere in the state.

I agree with TA, and believe that living in fear is its own punishment and living in peace and serenity is its own reward.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 6, 2005 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The Million Mom March organization promotes safe and sensible gun laws. I support them because, as a realist, I am resigned to the idea that even semi-automatic weapons wil never be banned in America, even though they serve no legitimate hunting or even self-defense purpose. Trigger locks, etc., might be the best we can do to mitigate the gun scourge.

So I compensate for my capitualtion to the political reality by chanting a little mantra every time I drive by the NRA headquarters in Fairfax. I can't repeat it verbatim as it is unfit for a family blog, but essentially I wish the people that work there to experience the kind of gun violence to themselves and their families that kurosawaguy so eloquently describes.

It gives me small satisfaction.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 6, 2005 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The Million Mom March organization promotes safe and sensible gun laws. I support them because, as a realist, I am resigned to the idea that even semi-automatic weapons wil never be banned in America, even though they serve no legitimate hunting or even self-defense purpose. Trigger locks, etc., might be the best we can do to mitigate the gun scourge.

So I compensate for my capitualtion to the political reality by chanting a little mantra every time I drive by the NRA headquarters in Fairfax. I can't repeat it verbatim as it is unfit for a family blog, but essentially I wish the people that work there to experience the kind of gun violence to themselves and their families that kurosawaguy so eloquently describes.

It gives me small satisfaction.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 6, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Guns are going to come in handy when the whole country is MadMax-ified and suffers from RiddleyWalker-ization. You never know when a gun battle is going to errupt over a can of petrol, mate.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Marc,
RE: Tom Davis' proposal for DC voting "rights," - that's pretty stupid. What Davis is saying is this: sure, (Democratic) black folks can have a voice - so long as it's effectively neutralized by the whitest of (Republican) white folks. There's absolutely no principle in his proposal, only racist condescension. You're really wrong about this, and especially wrong about blaming Dems for Republican racism - which is also at the root of the proposed dismantling of D.C. gun laws. Basically: more dead black kids, is what they want. Davis, at least, is on the right side of that one (as is every Democrat).

Posted by: jkd | July 6, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

. . . is an allusion to Dave Barry.

Posted by: ". . . used to be a lot funnier" | July 6, 2005 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Don't let your partisan leanings blind you to the real commitment that Tom Davis has toward voting rights for the District. Yes, he has balanced the D.C. vote in his bill with an extra seat for Utah, which would surely be a Republican seat. But look more closely: The bill makes D.C.'s House seat permanent, while the Utah seat would expire after just a couple of years and would be entirely contingent on the results of the next census justifying an additional seat for Utah. Davis has put the two together in order to make this politically palatable on the Hill. He perhaps foolishly figured that the Democrats would come along seeing as how they would be the prime beneficiary of the move, and thought he might get his fellow GOPers to come along on the promise of a seat for Utah. But now it's the Dems who are proving most recalcitrant. And that ought to tell you something about the real views of congressional Dems.

Posted by: Marc Fisher | July 6, 2005 1:07 PM | Report abuse

You'd think the Republicans WOULDN'T want more dead black kids (as kjd remarks): who else are they going to convince to go fight their wars for them?

Posted by: Anne Olivia | July 6, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

You'd think the Republicans WOULDN'T want more dead black kids (as kjd remarks): who else are they going to convince to go fight their wars for them?

Posted by: Anne Olivia | July 6, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Here's the kind of thing that really chaps me about guns and politics in this country- a while back some wingnut gets caught on a commercial flight with "explosive sneakers". No one is killed or injured, the sneakers don't blow, but TSA says we ALL have to have our shoes checked before boarding every time we fly. Also a while back two wingnuts buy an old Chevy, steal a laptop, and get their hands on a Bushmaster .223 rifle with a scope (because such things are very very easy to come by) and proceed to shoot 13 people and kill 10. This causes exactly zero change in the way America goes about it's business. What if those two had been only moderately competent terrorists instead of bumbling extortionists and had never made any demand for money, how many more could they have killed before the cops stopped searching white trucks and caught them? When gun ownership is treated as a responsibility only responsible people will have guns!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | July 6, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

JKD,
We must be pragmatic if we are ever to get a vote for DC. That means pacifying the Republicans to get our permanent vote and letting the chips fall where they may as far as what happens to Utah's extra vote after the next census.

As far as racism being behind the dismantling of DC gun laws, that's a stretch. Although it is interesting how many Virginians are afraid to come into the District. But that goes back to my theory about not enough trust in the humanity of people different from you.

Posted by: TA | July 6, 2005 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Technically, I don't think that TSA explicitly checks shoes, per say. It's just that the metal detectors are very sensitive, and if your shoes have steel shanks (as most dress shoes and virtually all women's shoes have) then you're going to have to walk through again. Or get screened. You'll end up wasting a lot of time in any case. So it's just easier to take your shoes off. But you CAN wear them through if you really want to.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 2:20 PM | Report abuse

During summer, I ALWAYS wear my shoes through security because I refuse to let my very cute and properly pedicured feet touch the sketchy floor or carpet in the screening area.

It goes like this: the TSAs remind me to take my shoes of in their incredibly condescending manner common to those with disproportionate authority. I say in a calm, yet, imperious, tone (intended to remind them that they are glorified busboys), "No thanks. You can just wand me." They corral me, call for a female agent, wand me, run my shoes through the x-ray (while I sit with my feet raised to avoid contamination)and send me on my way. It really annoys the crap out of them because I have both refused their direction and created more work for them, thereby completely upending their worldview and striking back against their petty tyranny.

Or at least, that's how I like to see it. It could be that I am just a germaphobe.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 6, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Plus, I always seem to have a hole in my sock. And that sucks.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse


So airport security gets on my nerves too, and I'm prettz sick of having to give up nailclippers and whatnot that I've forgotten, but you have to feel bad for the poor security guys

Posted by: nomes | July 6, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

And then there's the toenail fungus . . .

Posted by: Achenfan | July 6, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I just wear sandals when I travel. And everyday of my life while not at work. Can't hide much in a pair of flip flops.

Posted by: Sara | July 6, 2005 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Cubedweller
So airport security gets on my nerves too, and I'm pretty sick of having to give up nailclippers and whatnot that I've forgotten, but you have to feel bad for the poor security guys. I mean, they have among the most heinously boring jobs in the world, and the only excitement theyll ever see would then, in fact, be life threatening. On another note, a friend of mine just got detained, fingerprinted and had mug shots taken because she had mace inside the EU (she was flying thru London). She is five foot one and has curly blond hair and many tiny freckles, and her purse features a gigantic pink bowtie. I know mace can be a dangerous substance and all, but efforts made to avoid profiling etc. can be funny. It breaks up the airline security delirium when a really really old lady is escorted off by three security guards because she has, like, a spork in her purse.

Posted by: nomes | July 6, 2005 2:57 PM | Report abuse

So theres a bizarre half-post from me up there....totally inexplicable. I apologize.

Posted by: nomes | July 6, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Toenail fungus is no joke dude. Lamosil costs $10 a pill and you take them for 90 days! Unless they begin to burn a hole in your liver first...

Posted by: Voice of sad experience | July 6, 2005 3:03 PM | Report abuse

nomes: we'll just think of it as a tribute to the half-smoke.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 6, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Toenail fungus is no joke dude. Lamosil costs $10 a pill and you take them for 90 days! Unless they begin to burn a hole in your liver first...

Posted by: Voice of sad experience | July 6, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Since these comments have gotten into remarking on the TSA, I'd like to comment, too. While we may not like giving up our nail files and clippers, and we may not like taking our shoes off so our "properly pedicured feet" don't hit airport floors, the people of the TSA are there to do a job. If those of us who travel would merely acquiese to some of the simplest procedures (not talking about stories I've heard about off the wall searches) rather than tie up TSA workers' time for wanding and searching shoes, the workers could get on to finding some real problems like somebody who might find means of getting a weapon on board a plane and endangering us all.

If we want to complain about airport security, think of Israel and stop. We have the right to be safe and protected, and the people who work for the TSA in our airports have the right to do a job they've been hired to do without being hassled and annoyed by people who don't want to get their feet dirty. Deal with it.

Posted by: Erica Snipes | July 6, 2005 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but didn't GAO find that a lot of TSA employees seem to think stealing the valuables out of my luggage is also part of their job? Let's not get all gushy about what a great job they're doing, because they're not.

Posted by: jw | July 6, 2005 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Dear Voice of sad experience:
You may have found your brethren in TSA-15 (not to be confused with the TSA). Toenail fungus is practically a prerequisite for membership. From time to time, washingtonpost.com allows the makers of Lamosil to peddle their wares on the Achenblog, along with hair-removal products, diet recommendations, and legal advice for people suffering from birth defects.
The select audience is an attractive bunch.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed re. your liver. And let's not even think about the side effect known as "oily discharge" (ooh -- is it OK to say that on the Achenblog?)

Posted by: Achenfan | July 6, 2005 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey Erica, thanks for your "deal with it" response to my comment. Actually, it has been demonstrated several times over that it is all too easy to get weapons past those sharpie TSA agents. Besides, time is not exactly a premium with those agents, paid by the hour as they are. So my taking up their time with a little extra wanding (c'mon, you know they love it) won't result in less time for snooping through your carry-ons.

By the way, "Snipes" is a great aptonym.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 6, 2005 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Cubedweller,
Your feet are made to be tough--they can take the "dirty" floor at the airport and your body will never know the difference. Wasting the TSA guys' time doesn't help change the situation and if everyone acted as you did, that would add up to a lot of public money spent just to make sure you didn't have to take your shoes off. (not that public money isn't wasted all the time...) You seem very high maintenance.

If you want change, blame the guys at the top who can do something about it by voting them out. The little guys at TSA won't be able to do it for you.

Posted by: TA | July 7, 2005 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the support, TA.

Cubedweller...I can only say that I am very proud of my husband and his last name, and I have no problem calling myself by my actual name on this blog. I certainly wish you well on your future travels.

Posted by: Erica Snipes | July 7, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the support, TA.

Cubedweller...I can only say that I am very proud of my husband and his last name. I wish you well on your future travels.

Posted by: Erica Snipes | July 7, 2005 10:22 AM | Report abuse

My apologies for the double post.

Posted by: Erica Snipes | July 7, 2005 10:25 AM | Report abuse

TA - I agree certainly with the concept of voting out the policymakers who come up with these ridiculous and ineffective "solutions" to the security issue, but that is a fairly long-term prospect. In the meantime, I am proud to exercise a sort of civil disobedience of the mildest form. Surely both you & Ms. Snipes have at some point in your lives been fed up by some part of our national bureaucracy -- be it the IRS or just your local DMV -- and you've protested in some manner, even if just to mutter under your breath while standing in line.

Or perhaps not. You both sound very, um, sort of Ward Cleaver (or his lovely wife June, as the case may be).

As for my feet, well, the fact that they can take does not mean that I am willing to subject them to it. You say high maintenance, I say hygenic.

Posted by: Cubedweller | July 7, 2005 11:27 AM | Report abuse

DC Vote has a really comprehensive Davis bill page. Go to http://www.dcvote.org/events/event.cfm?eventID=139. Check it out.

Posted by: DC Vote Davis Bill Page | July 9, 2005 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Here's Joel on NPR

Posted by: kbertocci | July 11, 2005 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Ignore the above, I'm trying to get html to work and it's not working.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 11, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

pvhxpurcv [link http://hlvyghfz.com]test4[/link]

Posted by: John S | September 8, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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