Thursday, September 11, 2008

Live Free or Die (Except if you live in Washington, D.C.) H.R. 6691 - A Bad Idea

I’ve always admired the New Hampshire motto Live Free or Die. It calls forth ideals of independence and self-government. Which begs the question, why are both of New Hampshire’s congressional representatives trying to strong arm and overrule the Washington, D.C. City Council? Don’t the residents of D.C. have democratic rights?

Both Congressman Paul Hodes and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter are cosponsors of H.R. 6691, a bill that would repeal D.C. gun laws, overturning provisions enacted by the District of Columbia City Council and endorsed by the residents of Washington, D.C. This bill is a shameless attempt by the gun lobby to interfere with local city rule and to push the NRA’s irresponsible and dangerous agenda. The D.C. Council does not need the NRA to draft their new gun regulations.

In June the Supreme Court overturned D.C.’s restrictive gun laws in the landmark decision D.C. v. Heller. While the Court ruled that the D.C. laws went too far in restricting access to handguns and that an individual right to bear arms is protected under the Second Amendment the court also ruled that this right is not absolute and that gun regulation is constitutional.

In response to this ruling and to bring the city into compliance with Heller, the D.C. Council passed an emergency resolution allowing the registration of handguns. They are currently working hard on crafting permanent gun legislation that will best provide for the public’s safety.

But the gun lobby is not satisfied with the D.C. Council’s efforts and is taking this opportunity to encourage Congress to meddle in local legislation. They are pushing hard for H.R. 6691, a bill that would not only repeal D.C.’s current gun regulations but also prevent the D.C. City Council from enacting any gun-related legislation in the future. It is an obscene attempt to prevent the residents of Washington, D.C. from governing themselves. How ironic that the only two congressional cosponsors from New England come from the state with the motto Live Free or Die.

H.R. 6691 has many dangerous provisions that go far beyond the requirements of the Heller ruling. H.R. 6691 would:

- Repeal D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons, including assault weapons like the Tec-9 assault pistol and AK-47s.

- Allow D.C. residents to cross state lines to buy handguns in neighboring states. Current federal law bars gun dealers from selling handguns directly to out of state buyers because of the high risk this creates for interstate gun trafficking.

- Repeal D.C.’s registration requirements for firearms.

- Repeal D.C.’s safe storage laws.

- Prohibit D.C. from passing future gun regulations.

At a recent hearing on H.R. 6691 law enforcement officials testified that the bill would even permit people to carry loaded semi-automatic rifles such as AK-47s lawfully on the streets of D.C.

“Imagine how difficult it will be for law enforcement to safeguard the public, not to mention the president at the inaugural parade,” said Chief Cathy Lanier, chief of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has asked Congress to demonstrate their "commitment to the democratic process" by allowing the city government to work on its own to comply with the Heller decision.

So why are Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter so anxious to not only interfere with D.C. lawmakers but to enact legislation that will make it harder to protect residents and visitors of Washington, D.C.? Are they afraid that in this election year the NRA will work against them if they don’t cosponsor this legislation? Do they not understand the Heller ruling when it states “like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” How sad to see both New Hampshire representatives supporting this irresponsible and dangerous NRA agenda.