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Preserving Second Amendment Rights

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Preserving Second Amendment Rights

On June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal appeals court decision that the gun ban in Washington, D.C. is unconstitutional. This gun ban had been in place for over 30 years and during that time our nation's capital degenerated into one of the most violent, crime-infested cities in America. Many people, myself included, believe one of the reasons for that crime wave was precisely because we disarmed the law abiding citizens and left them defenseless. While the highest court in the land has restored the full constitutional rights of the citizens of the District of Columbia, their own city council and mayor have immediately set to work at eroding these rights.

The D.C. City Council and mayor are already hard at work coming up with heavy handed rules and regulations designed to make gun ownership in the capital city as difficult and cumbersome as possible. Under their proposed regulations any gun that can hold more than 12 rounds would be banned, citizens would be required to register their guns and pay an arbitrary fee and all guns would be required to be kept unloaded and disassembled or equipped with trigger locks. As one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit remarked, "A robber basically has to make an appointment in order for a homeowner to get ready to defend themselves."

To combat the city's ongoing disregard for the constitutional rights of its citizens, I have added my name to a discharge petition - a legislative tool used to force a vote in Congress - that is being circulated in the House of Representatives. The piece of legislation that this discharge petition pushes forward is H.R. 1399, the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act. It is a bill that would provide congressional enforcement to the Supreme Court's decision and prohibit the District of Columbia government from adding restrictive provisions that would nullify the true effect of the ruling.

More specifically, H.R. 1399 would preserve D.C. gun rights in three key ways. First, it would override the storage requirements that would prevent residents from keeping a firearm ready for self-defense at home. Secondly, it would repeal the District of Columbia's registration system. Finally, the bill would reiterate the authority of an individual's constitutional right over the D.C. City Council's agenda to impose unreasonable burdens on those rights.

Over 200 Members of Congress have added their support to the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act, but it is currently stuck in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. By signing onto the discharge petition, I hope to bring it to the floor for an immediate vote. I am working to encourage my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to add their support to the petition as well.

The Supreme Court made the appropriate decision by restoring the rights of D.C. residents to keep and bear arms. Now, Congress needs to act to ensure that an overzealous local government doesn't take us down the path of eroding those rights again.

"Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" - Patrick Henry


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