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From the Publisher's Desk...

A VOTE ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE NOT WORTH GIVING UP OUR GUN CONTROL REGS

What a conundrum! Finally, it seemed a done deal — our Congressional Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, was on the verge of becoming an actual voting member of the House of Representatives. The wheels were greased.

But, this still being the Congress loaded with namby-pamby members scared to death of the National Rifle Association (NRA) which threatened to lop off their heads if they voted out a hill stripped of the ill-conceived Senate language that virtually would wipe out any authority for us locals to regulate guns in the streets, it looks like they have caved.

So, what are the options? As things now appear, it seems quite unlikely that a bill can pass the House without the city’s already modified (in response to last year’s Supreme Court ruling) gun control regulations being effectively wiped away to the point of meaninglessness. That means there can be no hope of stripping out the Senate’s anti-gun control language from its bill when both versions come together for ironing out by the Conference Committee.

As far as we are concerned, if anti-gun control is to remain in the bill then our friends in the Conference Committee should walk out of the room and allow the thing to die. Better to have things remain as they are rather than for us to begin down that slippery slope of the Congress interfering and overruling as it did in the old days before Home Rule — in effect once again serving as the city’s legislature. So much progress has been made over the past decade in seeing Congress stay out of local municipal law-making; if we countenance this bold intervention now it will clearly lead to more and more and we will again be the plantation satrapy we once were.

We hear that there is a kind of “compromise” in the works, however, that is thought to be the way to save the bill. That would have the offensive gun business stripped out of the bill so that what would be voted on would be what they call a “clean” bill. But the dirty little ploy would be that the legislation to effectively strip the city of its authority to regulate the sale and use of firearms, including the unfettered right of any DC resident to purchase guns willy-nilly out in gun-friendly Virginia and Maryland, would be introduced and passed by both the House and the Senate as a stand-alone bill.

That would be equally unacceptable and I urge our local political leaders and Congressional friends not to fall for this fraud.

A closing thought: While it would certainly be a wonderful thing if our Congressional Delegate could have the right to vote on the floor of the House, the reality is that Mrs. Norton, by virtue of her seniority and dogged work and initiative over the years in the House serving on and chairing influential committees, has gained an enormous amount of political clout and through that has been vastly more effective in representing our own citizens interests and concerns than a substantial number of the other members. Not having an actual floor vote has not diminished her effectiveness on our behalf one iota; she exercises her present right to vote in committees — and that’s where the real power resides.

So, with this caveat in mind, it is our view that it would not be worth obtaining a symbolic victory only to end up finding a critical local government responsibility virtually yanked out from under us.