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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. NORTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to amendment No. 39. The amendment reflects a pattern by Republicans in the 112th Congress of singling out the District of Columbia for unique treatment and outright bullying.

There is no Federal law that exempts active military personnel in their personal capacities from otherwise applicable Federal firearms laws, except with respect to residency requirements, or from any State or local firearms laws. Yet the amendment expresses the sense of Congress that active duty personnel in their personal capacities should be exempt from gun laws only in one jurisdiction, the District of Columbia.

If the gentleman on the other side who sponsored this amendment believes that active duty personnel should be exempt from Federal, State, or local firearms laws, why did he not offer an amendment that would apply nationwide? Perhaps he did not offer such an amendment for the same reason that the Republican sponsor of H.R. 3808--to ban abortions for 20 weeks only in the District of Columbia, on which the House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution held a hearing today--did not introduce that same 20-week bill to apply nationwide. Or perhaps Republicans pick on the District because they think they can.

The proponents of this amendment, as well as the D.C. gun bill which would eliminate D.C.'s gun laws, live in the past, acting as if the changes the District has made in its gun laws after the Supreme Court Heller decision in 2008 had not happened, and as if a Federal district court and a Federal appeals court had not already upheld the constitutionality of the District's new gun laws. They act as if the Supreme Court's McDonald decisions in 2010 had never occurred.

In McDonald, the Court said that the Second Amendment does not confer ``the right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.''

This amendment represents the third attack by this Congress on the District's gun safety laws. Although the amendment is nonbinding, we will fight every attack on our rights as a local government, particularly when we are singled out for unequal treatment.

This amendment does nothing less than attempt to pave the way for actual inroads into the District's new gun safety laws. Republicans have been trying, this week, to use the District of Columbia to move issues they dare not propose for the Nation at large, instead of focusing on jobs. And our allies, our city, and I have spent the week fighting back equally hard.

The majority can expect a fierce fight from us whenever a bill degrades our citizens and treats them in any way as second-class citizens, as this bill proposes to do this very evening.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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