Gun amendment not the real issue with DC voting rights bill
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Washington D.C. gun compromise not good for gun rights or Constitution
Is Congress trying to put the President and other dignitaries at risk?
Last week, we discussed (with more here) the possibility that Washington D.C. would gain a voting seat in the House of Representatives, provided by legislation that would also strike down many of the most oppressive of D.C.’s gun laws. I went on record as being opposed to such legislation, despite my vehement opposition to those gun laws.
First and foremost among those reasons is the fact that the Constitution simply does not allow for Congressional representation for a non-state. Every time we agree to accept an unconstitutional law, we undermine our own position as holders of the Constitutional high ground.
On a more pragmatic, “tactical” level, Republicans have another reason to oppose the bill. In order to offset the Democrat gain of a seat in the overwhelmingly Democrat D.C., the bill would also have provided very Republican Utah with a seat. The problem with this compromise, though, is that it would be very short-lived, with Utah only keeping the seat until 2012, when Congressional seats will be reapportioned, based on the 2010 census.
Finally, as D.C.’s (non-voting) Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has said herself, there is a decent chance of passing a gun rights bill not attached to an unconstitutional “voting rights” bill for D.C.–so why not do it that way?
As it turns out, the bill, which some had expected to be voted on as soon as today, is apparently dead (again)–this time, because of an amendment to do even more for gun rights in the District, and also because of erstwhile supporter Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) opposition, over the fact that (bizarrely) the bill would make Utah’s additional House seat an “at-large” seat, representing the entire state, rather than just a district within the state, like every other House seat in the nation. From Roll Call:
A gun rights amendment backed by the National Rifle Association that would bar Washington, D.C., from prohibiting people from carrying guns in public caused the withdrawal of the D.C. House Voting Rights Act on Tuesday.
“Almost every commercial office building, as well as all rental housing units, could be filled with persons possessing guns,” D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said of the legislation. “These provisions are so over the top, they are unworthy of serious consideration.”
Predictably, the Brady Campaign is yelling “Victory!”
Victory! Thanks to all of you who called House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to urge her not to sell out Washington, D.C.’s life-saving gun laws.
Well, if the Brady Campaign wants to claim credit for a defeating a bill that was on the fast track until Congressional gun rights supporters managed to make it even more pro-gun, that’s fine.
The new, even more pro-gun, amendment was written by Congressmen Travis Childers (D-MS) and Mark Souder (R-IN), and they vow to do what Del. Norton feared–reintroduce gun rights language either as a stand-alone bill, or attached to some other bill.
I am deeply disappointed that upcoming legislation authored by myself and Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana to end D.C.’s unconstitutional gun ban has been pulled from the House’s floor schedule. However, this fight is not over. When, nearly two years ago, D.C.’s City Council defied a Supreme Court ruling to protect citizens’ right to bear arms, it violated the fundamental rights upon which this great country was founded. I remain committed to overturning D.C.’s gun ban – a critical step towards ensuring that these rights are permanently safeguarded for all Americans. I plan to move forward with introducing this important bipartisan legislation in the near future, and will urge leadership to bring our bill to the floor without delay.
That’s a much better approach than compromising on Constitutional principle.
More from Gun Rights Examiners
Atlanta: Ed Stone | Austin: Howard Nemerov | Boston: Ron Bokleman | Charlotte: Paul Valone | Cheyenne: Anthony Bouchard | Chicago: Don Gwinn | Cleveland: Daniel White | DC: Mike Stollenwerk | Denver: Dan Bidstrup | Fort Smith: Steve D. Jones | Grand Rapids: Skip Coryel | Knoxville: Liston Matthews | Los Angeles: John Longenecker | Minneapolis: John Pierce | National: Dan | Parkersburg: Nicholas Arnold | Phoenix: Douglas Little | Pittsburgh: Dan Campbell | Seattle: Dave Workman | St. Louis: Kurt Hofmann | Tucson: Chris Woodard | Wisconsin: Gene German