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Giving Up Gun Laws For Voting Rights?

The D.C. Council will hold a special legislative meeting today to approve a resolution that will declare the council's opposition to an amendment attached to the District voting rights bill by Senate Republicans that would significantly loosen the city's gun laws.

The amendment would prohibit the District from enacting laws or regulations on firearms. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's 32-year handgun ban in June.
Mendelson and the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) immediately began working on new laws that set up registration requirements.

Those requirements would be thrown out, as well as the city's current regulations that prohibit possession and use of firearms by certain individuals, including the mentally ill committed voluntarily to a mental institution, those with a history of violent behavior, those convicted for domestic violence and those with multiple convictions for drunk driving.

"We want to make it clear that this amendment is unacceptable," said Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.

All 13 council members have signed on to today's resolution, but there was division and hesitation about whether to reject the voting rights bill if the amendment remains attached. After years of lobbying, the District would get representation in the House but could lose its authority to govern firearms.

That is not addressed by today's resolution, but Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said it warranted discussion because the issue is on the minds of the public.

Evans said he attended a community meeting Monday night, and the crowd appeared to lean toward foregoing the voting rights bill if it means looser gun laws. "It scared me a little bit," Evans told council members at a breakfast meeting this morning.

"I have been wrestling with that," Mendelson said.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) said she also was struggling with the prospect. "To make us swallow this without objection...we're just lying down, just like always," she said. "What have we won?"

But Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) said the council cannot give up voting rights to fight the gun amendment, which could be attached to another bill in the future even if advocates manage to get it removed this time. "Do any of us like the symbolism of this? No," he said. "It's staggering, but I don't want us to fall for this trap, which has us opposing our own interests."

Catania said the council should support the voting rights bill, which could give Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) the authority to "work to repeal this" if it passes.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  March 3, 2009; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Gun Ban Case , Voting Rights  
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Comments

Marion Barry, what a moronic backstabbing move.

Barry has for so long participated in the destruction of governance in the district of Columbia, from appointing thieves and embezzlers to out right employment of his henchmen cronies.

Such a disservice to D.C.'s majority African American population that erringly join the D.C. Democratic Party only to be back-stabbed, robbed, and disconnected from non-criminal activities which falls under the representation of a convicted felon and tax evader. What a moronic D.C. government, and such a waste of citizen taxes to pay this moron's salary.

Barry sets to place U.D.C. back into the dark ages for neglectful malaise and crony politics to the disadvantage of every voter of the District of Columbia.

Posted by: eglobegus | March 3, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The DC Council continues to amaze me. Why are they so hesitant to allow the RIGHT to own firearms, and so adamant about the RIGHT to representation in congress. The council is being selective with their resident's rights. As if they, and only they know what is good for DC citizens.

Just as a citizen can decide whether they want to and will vote and not be subjected to a maze of regulations requiring them to express which candidate they want to vote for or a form asking about their views on politics or requiring those who wish to vote to take a course on liberal politics; law-abiding citizens should be able to determine if they want or do not want the right to own a firearm and keep it in their home without having to jump hurdles that only serve to prohibit these law abiding individuals from obtaining that right.
There is absolutely no common sense and rationale to give voting rights (NOT in the Constitution) to a local government that intends to take away rights (IN the Constitution and recently decided as true by the SCOTUS).

Posted by: civilrightist | March 3, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

If it's unacceptable to force DC to meet the requirements of the constitution then it's too bad for the residents. They are the one's that get short changed because the DC politicians feel they have the authority to violate the law. SAD.

Posted by: askgees | March 3, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You want to get back at Congress, dissolve the DC Council, Mayor, and all government services and force Congress to run the City. You'll have independence in no time.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 3, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Marion Barry, what a moronic backstabbing move.

Barry has for so long participated in the destruction of governance in the district of Columbia, from appointing thieves and embezzlers to out right employment of his henchmen cronies.

Such a disservice to D.C.'s majority African American population that erringly join the D.C. Democratic Party only to be back-stabbed, robbed, and disconnected from non-criminal activities which falls under the representation of a convicted felon and tax evader. What a moronic D.C. government, and such a waste of citizen taxes to pay this moron's salary.

Barry sets to place U.D.C. back into the dark ages for neglectful malaise and crony politics to the disadvantage of every voter of the District of Columbia.


Posted by: eglobegus | March 3, 2009 12:20 PM


They voted for him let them live with their decision.

Posted by: askgees | March 3, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The council will trade away everything in order to get voting rights. Unfortunately, having just one voting member of the House is just a hill of magic beans. It's not real representation, it's under representation and completely pointless without senators.

Hopefully the SCOTUS will shoot this mess down anyway and the DC can apply for statehood.

Posted by: 8-man | March 3, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Typical DC double-standard. They want statehood, but simultaneously want to deprive their citizens of constitutional rights that are a PART of being a state. I love how they want to have it both ways. Guess Messrs Mendelson, et al. will have to decide which is more important to them: statehood (with all that that implies) or a continuation of their little socialist fiefdom. We'll see...

Posted by: linguist64 | March 3, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

You want to get back at Congress, dissolve the DC Council, Mayor, and all government services and force Congress to run the City. You'll have independence in no time.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 3, 2009 1:01 PM

I concur as well!

Posted by: Ward4DC | March 3, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Why don't any of you get it?!?!? We don't want to deprive our citizens of a Constitutional right. We just want the same right as any other state to govern how that right is applied. This rider would prevent DC citizens from being able to decide that people who buy guns must register them. Or follow any other common sense laws that other states have (gun safety issues, gun locks, things like that).

I am against banning guns (though I do think it should be harder to get a gun than to get a driver's license!) but I also believe in Democracy. And if the people of this city feel it is in the best interest of the people of this city to outlaw guns (by the way, we never outlawed all guns, just handguns) then shouldn't that be up to us and not some Senator that has only been here for a few years and won't even live in the District while serving their term?

If you don't live here you don't get it.
Hill East Resident for 15 years.

Posted by: mwalkerg | March 3, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Washington, DC
Governed Without Consent

Posted by: citizenw | March 3, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

It seems that the council is concerned with forcing something into being (DC voting representation) that will be found unconstitutional while at the same time trying to prevent it's citizens from having guns which is constitutional.

Posted by: ahashburn | March 3, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

civilrightist

Even places like Florida and Texas have some regulations to their gun rights. Why are we trying to underregulate gun laws as the alternative to overregulation in DC. Most of the people who post about DC's gun laws dont even live in DC and live in places where there are some restrictions in their gun laws even if they have gun rights. I mean do you really want no gun laws? Meaning if I have a mental history, a history of violent behavior you don't want me to be checked out? So if the DC Snipers or The VA Tech shooter want to get guns in DC they should be able to do so without any regulations? If an Al-Queda terrorist wants to purchase a gun in DC no check on his status, no form, no waiting period, just give him the gun

Posted by: ged0386 | March 3, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

What does Marion Barry have to do with this? he is not even in the article. Come on people get it together.

Posted by: zippergyrl | March 3, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Most of you people just trash DC because you think its the thing to do. You hate DC but you love the good paying jobs the city's business and government provide. You dont know DC you dont know the government. Hell most of you that trash Barry wasn't even here when he was mayor. You only heard about him. If I ask you who was mayor before him and after him you would have to google it. I don't know but when I look around at VA and MD, NC, and all up and down the coast I see governments that are dysfunctional and bogged down with the same problems that DC has. So I dont understand all the trashing of DC. Why would you not want DC residence to have full voting rights? Because it makes you feel like you are better than someone else if you do? Most of you are on a my town is better than DC kick because you are a bunch of self centered egomaniacs that look for anything to convince yourselves that you are better than someone else. DC doesn't need any of you people. Go back to your tired old home towns and try to find that good paying job that you came here for. Hey I may not like Wyoming but I dont trash the place nor do I try to change it. I just choose not to live there and go on with my life. I dont need to prove I am better than the people in Wyoming are.

Posted by: ged0386 | March 3, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

For the poster ranting about Barry, what does he have to do with this article. Is that all you think of when you think of DC? I would rather think your post was some mistake and belongs to another article. Otherwise you sound like a hateful idiot and I hope you are not a resident.

Posted by: ged0386 | March 3, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

If it's unacceptable to force DC to meet the requirements of the constitution then it's too bad for the residents. They are the one's that get short changed because the DC politicians feel they have the authority to violate the law. SAD.

Posted by: askgees | March 3, 2009 1:00 PM

So according to you any place that has any kind of restrictions to any gun laws is violating the law? Boy thats a long list of law breakers. Basically every state that allows guns has some restrictions. Why should DC be any different? Just to impress a minority of non residence who think that suppressing local government laws is somehow good for its people. So democracy is good as long as I agree with it. Is that how it works?

Posted by: ged0386 | March 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The following is a portion of a post by a previous respondent:

"There is absolutely no common sense and rationale to give voting rights (NOT in the Constitution) to a local government that intends to take away rights (IN the Constitution and recently decided as true by the SCOTUS)."

BRILLIANT !

In addition; I want to point put the irony of these people trying to push through an unconstitutional measure (a vote for a non-state) while AT THE SAME TIME, trying to limit their residents constitutional rights ! You usually only see such tomfoolery in comic books and the like !

Posted by: gjdagis | March 3, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

mwalkerg - I understand you're sentiment, but you're not a state. The federal district was created in the Constitution. Argue with the framers if you like, it will get you just as far.

I still think dissolving the Council and all government services and forcing Congress to actually manage the District would really force their hands.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 3, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

ged0386:
Common sense gun laws are not forbade by this amendment. There are already federal firearms restrictions that apply nationwide with regards to felons, mentally incapacitated persons who are involuntarily committed, and domestic violence abusers. This amendment would just disallow DC from adding to the federal list of persons not allowed to own guns. I am sorry that authors of this editorial are ignorant of this fact, but you may look this up in the United States Code if you doubt me.

Unfortunately, the DC sniper and the VA tech shooter did not fall into any of the federal categories or any of the categories that the DC restrictions now disallow.
BUT, The founders of the Constitution had a means for deterring this type of behavior as well. THEY intended for every able bodied male (I'll admit they were sexist and racist) to be required to keep and bear arms at all times. Only men of the cloth (priests, preachers, rabbis) were not required to have a firearm at their ready. The founders realized that laws cannot deter insane and criminal behavior, only a well armed populace can guarantee that men not behave criminally, and only a well armed populace can deal with insanity instantly.

While I concur with the infinite wisdom of the founders, I realize that it would be impractical to arm every law abiding citizen in today's culture of fear for the firearm; this exactly why we have law enforcement; for those individual unable or unwilling to protect themselves.

I do thank you for the reasonable and thoughtful discussion on this subject. I wish more posters to WAPO were open to legitimate discussions like yourself. Good day.

Posted by: civilrightist | March 3, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The Supreme court already struck down the councils last attempt at writing gun control laws. It would be stupid of them to not accept the voting rights bill merely to protect their newly written gun laws which will AGAIN be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Posted by: cambel1 | March 3, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

mwalkerg: While your argument holds merit...Akin to letting the majority decide on an issue affecting the locality...Let's take it from another perspective:

Say the residents of a solidly conservative state like Texas voted to disallow any liberals from voicing their opinions in any state newspaper; thereby restricting the first amendment rights of those citizens; Would that be fair, since that is what the majority wanted?
I believe that would be considered an atrocity. I hope you see the fundamental importance of the Bill of Rights, it is there so that these rights can never be violated, not by any federal, state or local government. These are rights handed down to us citizens of the USA by God, never to be infringed on.

Posted by: civilrightist | March 3, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

""We want to make it clear that this amendment is unacceptable," said Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary."

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Posted by: dubya19391 | March 3, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

MORANS!
I can't stand these new DC residents!
Sure get mad at Marion Barry because BUSH never would have done the things he did.
I don't know why having a gun in your house makes you feel safe when they can kill you before you make it to the house.
It's my right to own a gun. SHUT UP!

I don't know but when I look around at VA and MD, NC, and all up and down the coast I see governments that are dysfunctional and bogged down with the same problems that DC has. So I dont understand all the trashing of DC.
I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY:)

Posted by: shamken | March 3, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

cambel1: I could not agree more!
I wonder if the DC council is taking the Heller the case and Heller the man seriously, he has filed again in federal district court, he will win again. This is also going to cost DC a few million to Alan Gura for his fees in representing Heller et al. The council has already cost DC taxpayers for the "first" go around. I know of quite a few in the legal community that would like a pet project case that has Constitutional merit, attorneys can make a career out of this on the DC taxpayer dollar. I guess the DC council really does not care about wasting taxpayer dollars. The fiscally, morally and constitutionally right thing to do is not to fight an unwinnable fight.

Posted by: civilrightist | March 3, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

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