Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

House Takes a Jab at D.C. Gun Control Laws

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Conservative lawmakers are again taking a jab at the District’s gun control laws, despite a recent federal court ruling upholding the restrictions.

On Thursday, the House approved a nonbinding measure calling for active-duty military personnel to be exempt from D.C. gun laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation. The resolution expressing a sense of Congress, offered by Georgia Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by voice vote.

Despite the fact that the measure has no legal effect, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton was riled.

She framed the proposal, which also passed the House in 2012 and 2013, as an “attack” on gun safety  and vowed to work with Senate allies to get the amendment removed from the final version of the bill, with the help of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The advocacy group has already promised to defend the District against attempts to dismantle its gun laws.

“In this country, we respect local jurisdictions, particularly on questions of public safety,” Norton said in a release. “What ever happened to Phil Gingrey’s tea party principles of local control of local affairs? Meddling in a district more than 600 miles from his own takes him just that far from those principles.”

Gingrey acknowledged in an interview that the act is about sending a message. The lawmaker indicated he had no plans to move forward with a bill he introduced earlier this Congress that would make the exemption for military personnel enforceable, though he “would love to have them consider [the bill] later.”

By his count, there are about 40,000 military personnel around the D.C. area who would be affected. Those servicemen and women are “expert in regard to firearms and safety and accuracy and marksmanship,” Gingrey said. Arming them would effectively give the Metropolitan Police Department — a force he says is probably “undermanned” — an extra “40,000 deputies to help them cut down on capital crime in the District of Columbia.”

Gingrey said shootings in Fort Hood, Texas, have raised the profile of the issue of arming military personnel.

“I’m a little bit surprised that the District of Columbia doesn’t say, ‘Hey, this is great and welcome,'” he said.

Last week, District Judge James E. Boasberg upheld the District’s firearm registration requirements as consistent with the Second Amendment, in a follow up case to the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that struck down D.C.’s ban on handgun possession.

The court approved of D.C.’s one-gun-a-month registration limit and regular registration renewal.  The ruling also upheld requirements that firearms registrants appear in person with the weapon to be registered, and submit to fingerprints and photographs, plus firearms-safety, training and knowledge requirements.

“Honestly, I don’t specifically know their gun laws,” Gringrey said, when asked if he was trying to overturn the policies affirmed by the court ruling.

Gingrey said the Supreme Court acknowledged an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but D.C. laws make it almost impossible for an individual to have a handgun in his or her own home to protect themselves and their family. He said he feels “very strongly that this is really a good thing.”

  • George L Smith III

    Obviously D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton doesn’t understand that DC IS HIS and EVERY Congressman’s district.. that she must follow the rules set forth by the house and the senate; she doesn’t get to make up her own.. its the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA… not the State of DC…

    • Andrew W

      So then shouldn’t all of DC’s alleged reps in Congress respond to what DC residents want? Which in this case is stricter gun laws.

      • George L Smith III

        So what your implying is that All DC residents want to give up their second amendment rights? Maybe they should relinquish their 1st, 4th and 5th Amendment rights as well?? Based on what Nortons suggestion, I’m sure she knows what the PEOPLE want..Sounds like she wants to control a district by violating peoples rights.. .

        • Andrew W

          You’re missing the point — most DC residents support strict gun control measures, and thus since you’re saying all of Congress is DC’s rep, they should support that. You could make the same argument about other issues — I bet many voters from Gingrey’s district don’t support legalized abortion, which is currently the law of the land. Does that mean Gingrey shouldn’t support them? What about Obamacare? If they don’t support that, but it’s currently the law, should he ignore them?

          • George L Smith III

            Really? You personally know most DC Residents? or are you drinking from the same fountain Norton does? Every DC resident I personally know can’t stand the jackbooted strangle hold politicians put on them, more specifically the extra rules imposed after Heller… go back and revise your “generalizations”, especially those derived from politicians…

          • Andrew W

            The mayor and every DC City Council member supports gun control, and it was the law since 1975. It was only overturned by a court case.

            But again, you’re missing the point. Shouldn’t all of DC’s alleged Congressmen support their constituents? The city voted in 2002 to decriminalize medical marijuana, for example, but Congress blocked it. The city also passed a referendum calling for budget autonomy, to be free from Congress — should DC’s “congressmen” support that?

          • Marcus Porcius

            DC has NO representatives. It is a special district. The mayor and city council are administrative. The simple reality is that the laws of DC only stand as long as a court or federal law allows them to stand. DC is not a state or county…it’s almost not even an actual city for legal purposes.

            So no, nobody in Congress should give a rat’s behind what the residents of DC actually want. If you live in DC and you want representatives in Congress to listen, you’d better get someone to change the Constitution to change what DC is. Residents of DC actually have NO say, so if they don’t like it they can try to get the Constitution changed or they can move.

            There’s nothing wrong with conservative reps treating DC the way the Constitution says it’s supposed to be treated. Unlike liberals, conservatives actually care about the Constitution.

          • Zach

            For someone who criticizes Andrew for not knowing most DC residents, it’s a little strange for you to be talking about what we want, because you clearly don’t know how we all think either.

    • Zach

      So basically, the 600,000+ people who live there get to be governed by people who are essentially unelected bureaucrats (certainly not elected by Washingtonians)?

      Seems to me I remember a lot of people saying they don’t like the idea of unelected bureaucrats…wasn’t Gingrey one of them?

  • Kenneth Johnson

    Georgia Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey, the rules on gun possession should apply to the US Capitol grounds as well. If armed citizens are on the grounds and in the gallery the quality of legislation would be improved due to sober ,somber consideration.

  • Andrew W

    This is hilarious — he can’t imagine why DC residents don’t like this? Probably because he represents a district in another state altogther and has no idea what DC residents want, like or need. He should stick to his own district.

  • oracle306

    So, if Gingrey’s rationale for allowing veterans to carry legally in the District is because “Those servicemen and women are “expert in regard to firearms and safety and accuracy and marksmanship” then, what about the rest of us non-veterans who are trained and certified in firearms use and safety, and those of us who practice our marksmanship on a regular basis? Why would we continue to be excluded from carrying in the District if we can demonstrate proficiency in firearms use and safety? Seems rather unfair and exclusionary to me. Maybe what the District really needs more is proficiency training requirements rather than these absurd registration restrictions, and exclusionary fees, and other impossible barriers to gun ownership that violate the S. Ct. ruling.

  • Zach

    “I’m a little bit surprised that the District of Columbia doesn’t say, ‘Hey, this is great and welcome,’” he said.”

    Hmm…think it might be because we’re tired of hypocrites who say they support less government and then essentially become unelected bureaucrats (because we sure didn’t vote for you) telling us what to do? Think that might have something to do with it?

    • Sifaka

      How is removing a government’s ability to restrict individuals more government?

  • oracle306

    And by the way Andrew, most DC residents do not favor the kind of “stricter” gun control EHN espouses because it violates the S. Ct. ruling in Heller. The folks I know and work with, many of whom come from other firearms-friendly states, but who now live and work in the District, are appauled by the firearms ownership restrictions and registration requirements in the District. It never used to be this way in the District, pre-1970s, when even little kids could carry their shotguns on a city bus, and the only thing people would say is, “How’d ya shoot today kid?” Those were the days when firearms training was provided by the schools. Which is what is needed so badly these days – a healthy respect for firearms and firearms training – so the ‘fraidy cats won’t be so fearful of firearms, and the yahoos, who would otherwise obtain firearms illegally, can learn to be responsible and skilled firearms owners. ENH and her kind do a dis-service to everyone by teaching them to be afraid of firearms. She also fights the nation-wide tide of gun-ownership supporters, Republican AND Democrat.

  • Boston You

    Only the dead have seen the end of war.

  • brunsk42

    What you and other liberal states are doing is crating a web of uncertainty, i should be able to drive from Arizona to New Hampshire transporting my guns without breaking every states gun laws on the way up, but the web you are weaving makes everyone guilty weather just passing through or not.. Like universal back ground checks, there should be universal laws to keep from entrapping people.

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