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DC Delegate Norton Fighting Congressional Attempts to Nix DC Gun Laws

Decrying what she rightly characterizes as “insult and insensitivity [with the] introduction of [a] bill to eliminate all DC gun laws on [the] one-year anniversary of [the] Newtown shooting,” our non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Eleanor Holmes Norton, once again is almost a voice in the wilderness speaking out on the national stage to call attention to how members of the House continually seek to take away our rights and vitiate our own locally-decided laws.

Further, Delegate Norton reminds anyone paying attention of the fact that “House Republicans continually reveal themselves to be hypocrites with repeated introduction of legislation to usurp the local autonomy of the District of Columbia despite their insistence on reducing the power of the federal government” (italics ours).

As citizens of the District we have an obligation to educate citizens around the country about this travesty that continually plays out, and to point out the obvious: that if members of Congress in Washington even hinted that it was their job to seek to overturn locally-enacted laws in states where they don’t even live, they’d be run out on a rail. Whenever this writer has mentioned this to out-of-staters they suddenly realize that us federal taxpayers are not treated as full citizens.

So, as DC citizens think about their holiday visits back home, we urge all to think about how to spread the word and use this very attack on our own gun laws as an example. When they are shown the list of the provisions in this latest introduced bill promoted by the National Rifle Association, even responsible gun owners and supporters of the 2nd Amendment ought to understand the total irresponsibility represented by the following 16 provisions (courtesy Delegate Norton’s office):

■ Permits the carrying of guns in public;

■ Repeals DC’s ban on large capacity ammunition feeding devices (i.e., magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds);

■ Repeals DC’s ban on assault weapons, including .50 caliber rifles;

■ Prohibits residential and commercial property owners from banning tenants from having guns on their property;

■ Bars DC from prohibiting guns in District owned or controlled buildings and structures that do not have certain security measures in place, which could include elementary schools and recreation centers, and DC cannot prevent private tenants of city owned or controlled buildings and structures from bringing guns into them, regardless of the security measures in place;

■ Repeals DC’s categories of prohibited possessors, such as a person who was voluntarily committed to a mental institution could buy a gun;

■ Prevents DC from making changes to its gun laws in the future;

■ Repeals DC’s gun registration requirements;

■ Creates the only exception to federal law by permitting DC residents to make handgun purchases in person outside their place of residency, in this case, in Maryland and Virginia;

■ Repeals DC’s limitation on the number of handguns that can be purchased per month;

■ Repealing DC’s 10-day waiting period to buy handguns or rifles and allowing for just a 48-hour waiting period for handguns only;

■ Repeals DC’s gun training requirements;

■ Repeals DC’s design safety standards for handguns;

■ Repeals DC’s requirement of micro-stamping for semi-automatic handguns;

■ Repeals DC’s requirement of ballistics testing for handguns;

■ Reduces penalties if a child is injured by a negligently stored gun.

Several of these provisions truly stand out for their outrageousness, including the one that would prohibit owners of residential and commercial property from banning tenants from having guns on their property –- that’s private property. This would mean that even homeowners who rent a room or an accessory apartment would be forced to allow guns in their homes.

But that’s not all. Employers in offices and other commercial work places in privately owned office buildings and properties would be forced to allow any employee or customer or visitor to wander the premises carrying a loaded gun.

And this from Republicans whose collective mantra is the sanctity of private property and the right of owners to be free of any control over how they can use their private property. Apparently this inconsistency is of no consequence to those very Republican members of Congress who are out to tell us what we must allow to be present on and in our privately owned properties.

Now is the time, then, for all of us to bring this message of insanity to the attention of citizens across the country. We are not saying that change will necessarily come about, but we must keep on pushing and educating. Such is our message for the Christmas season and the coming –- hopefully, better – new year.