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Posted at 4:36 PM ET, 02/11/2011

New Congress takes first whack at D.C. gun laws

By Mike DeBonis

The first concrete attempt to undo city gun laws has hit the congressional hopper: Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have introduced the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act," which is largely the same as a measure that failed to gain support in the previous, Democratic-controlled Congress.

With the new Republican majority in the lower house, the bill will likely encounter few obstacles from the chamber's leadership. Jordan is the leader of the influential Republican Study Committee. Ross takes over as lead Democratic sponsor of the bill from Travis Childers (D-Miss.), who was defeated in November.

The bill, per a release from Ross' office, "would repeal the D.C. semiautomatic gun ban, restore the right of self defense in the home, authorize D.C. residents to purchase firearms and ammunition, repeal overly-restrictive registration requirements and ensure that firearms may be transported and carried for legitimate purposes."

In other words, District residents would encounter far fewer obstacles to purchasing and keeping a gun in the city. A Washington Post analysis of city records published on Monday showed that city residents have registered more than 1,400 firearms since July 2008, when handgun ownership was allowed for the first time in some 40 years pursuant to a Supreme Court ruling.

The legislation comes with the strong backing of the National Rifle Association. "Today, self defense in the District of Columbia is a luxury item," said Chris Cox, the NRA's top lobbyist, in the Ross release. "The hefty fees and the almost insurmountable mountain of red tape put in place by the D.C. mayor and city council makes it near impossible for the average D.C. resident to have a firearm in their home to defend themselves."

District Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) assailed the measure in a release of her own today. She vowed to fight the measure: "They underestimate our residents if they think this city will tolerate autocratic rule from Congress any more than the Jordan and Ross districts would tolerate dictatorship from Congress on local matters," Norton said.

Congressional observers widely expect that some sort of D.C. gun measure is likely to pass the current Congress, though a standalone bill may not be the most likely avenue for it.

While the House bill might have a clear path to the floor, a Senate bill is unlikely to have leadership and committee support. But there is little doubt a Senate floor vote on D.C. gun laws would succeed: When a D.C. voting rights measure came to the floor of a Democratic Senate in 2009, senators voted overwhelmingly to attach a gun provision before final passage.

As for the feelings of District residents themselves: The latest Post polling on the issue, from January 2008, found that four out of five respondents felt that "control[ling] gun ownership" outweighed the need to "protect the rights of Americans to own guns." More than three-quarters of residents approved of the city's gun laws at the time, which banned private ownership of handguns.

By Mike DeBonis  | February 11, 2011; 4:36 PM ET
Categories:  The District  
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If it's the same language that Childers sponsored the summary in the press release really understates things. The bill would repeal all DC laws related to gun ownership (and possibly all laws related to carrying guns in public, if it's the later version) and permanently strip the council and mayor of the power to pass new laws on that subject. That means it would be a partial repeal of the Home Rule Act—something no DC resident should countenance, regardless of their feelings about DC's current gun laws.

Scalia has said that local regulation of gun ownership can be constitutional, so this extreme legislation can in no way be described as simply enforcing the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by: KCinDC1 | February 11, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Well KC regardless of how this will shake out in congress who can deny the DC hand gun laws are intentionally delegated to impede the process to own and possess a hand gun by law abiding eligible citizen of DC? The Heller & McDonald decisions are plainly ignored and the results is suppression of DC citizenry.
These draconian laws in some way have to be addressed and corrected & they will be one day.

Posted by: Wilson9 | February 13, 2011 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Holmes Norton ignores the fact that one's rights aren't up for a vote; it's a shame that Congress had to intervene in their violation of the Constitution. There is a false correlation between guns and violence that, if it were true, police stations would be slaughterhouses. Despite the gun ban experiment, DC ranks among the most violent cities in America. The experiment FAILED.

The law-abiding have the right to defend their homes, lives and loved ones, which is really what the Second Amendment is about. Criminals don't care what is illegal. Therefore any restrictions on firearms only impact the law abiding and is, in effect, enabling criminals. It is truly a shame that our nation's capitol, home to the White House, the Capitol Building and even the original documents our nation was founded upon must be SUED and LEGISLATED into following the laws written upon those documents. Citizens are expected to respect the law. Officials should, too.

Posted by: DJStuCrew | February 14, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Law abiding citizens of D.C. are being denied their Second Amendment right to bear arms. That sure is a slap in the face in this Free Nation. Please show me the freedom!

Posted by: Charlie34 | February 15, 2011 5:56 AM | Report abuse

DC's outdated, worthless and draconian gun control laws are a microcosm of what the rest of the nation was like during the age of high violent crime before 48 out of 50 states reformed those laws and finally allowed concealed carry. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's own National Institute of Justice /Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Annual FBI Crime Report, violent crime and gun accidents have "declined" where law abiding citizens are now allowed to keep and bear arms. That is a fact. In other words, more guns = less violent crime and fewer gun accidents. If there are people in DC too smug and pious to consider the self defense of themselves or loved ones, then nobody will force them to own or carry a gun. They can continue to be the whiney victims they are now. DC is still the capital of MY country and the Constitution will apply there just as it does elsewhere.

Posted by: OIFVet06 | February 15, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

This bill is a rehash of McCain's bill from last year.

It would ban open and concealed carry in D.C.
It would make criminals out of crime victims who had their firearms stolen.
It would allow landlords to ban tenants from possessing firearms.
It would reaffirm the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 (which the NRA never should have endorsed) among others.

The NRA has endorsed it.

Read the bill for yourself and then tell Mike and Jim to fix it or withdraw it.

U.S. Congressman Mike Ross, D-Ark
(202) 225-3772
(800) 223-2220
(202) 225-1314 Fax

U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan, R-OH
Phone (202) 225-2676
Fax (202) 226-0577

Posted by: CNReporter | February 16, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Autocratic means rule by a single individual e.g. a dictator or monarch in a non-constitutional monarchy. It, by definition, cannot apply to authority imposed by an elected body, i.e. the United States Congress. Norton must be a product of the DC public school system. She is too ignorant to even know what the terms she throws around mean.

Posted by: steve001968 | February 16, 2011 10:43 PM | Report abuse

If DC had respected and upheld the rights of it's citizens in the first place no action by congress would be needed. Instead DC chose to pervert it's power to the point that the Supreme court had to intervene. Now, post Heller, they are still structuring their laws in such a way as to continue to blatantly infringe citizens 2nd amendment rights. It's time for congress to step in and put them in their place. DC is not a state. It's a federal enclave, and as such congress has broad constitutional authority over it. That's good because, quite frankly, DC's officials have clearly demonstrated they cannot be trusted to uphold and obey the constitution without being forced to do so. That being the case, the time to force them has come.

Posted by: steve001968 | February 17, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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