Congress Poised to Vote
on National Rifle Association-Backed Bill to Repeal DC Gun Laws
U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on a bill sponsored by
Representative Mark Souder (R-IN) to overturn all of the District of Columbia's
gun laws that are stricter than federal law. The bill currently has 228
co-sponsors. The bill, H.R. 3193, would: repeal the District's ban on
handguns and semiautomatic weapons, including assault weapons; end firearm
registration requirements; and, remove criminal penalties for possessing
an unregistered firearm. Under the bill, the District government would
be denied the "authority to enact laws or regulations that discourage
or eliminate the private ownership or use of firearms." A vote to add
a similar measure to the District's fiscal year 2005 spending bill in
the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected tomorrow. [The VPC has
b-roll of assault weapons that would be legalized under the legislation.]
VPC Legislative Director
Kristen Rand states, "Since its passage, repeal of the DC handgun ban
has been the National Rifle Association's Holy Grail. This effort is being
undertaken without regard for the safety of DC residents�or our national
leaders. To think that at the same time that DC is being turned into a
virtual fortress�with vehicle checkpoints on public streets and cement
barriers at every turn�Congress is going to allow handguns and assault
weapons to be sold and transported throughout the city is sheer lunacy.
If Congress truly believes the NRA's rhetoric, then it should also repeal
the ban on guns in the U.S. Capitol."
of the District's current ban on handgun possession is demonstrated by
the fact that virtually none of the guns used in crime in the District
originated here. Gun dealers in the District accounted for only three
percent of recovered crime guns in 2000. In contrast, 59 percent of traceable
DC crime guns were first purchased in Virginia and Maryland. Another 18
percent of DC crime guns were bought from gun dealers in North Carolina,
Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. All of these jurisdictions have
gun laws far more lenient than the District of Columbia's. Recognizing
the District's lack of voting representation in Congress, gun ban supporters
are urging Congress to respect the District's home-rule rights.
In response to the
last attempt to repeal the law in March 2004, DC law enforcement, businesses,
associations, and residents successfully fought to keep the ban. The VPC
and other organizations distributed thousands of red and white placards
stating "Keep the DC Handgun Ban," while asking the question, "If the
U.S. Capitol can be handgun free, why can't DC?"
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x122