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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DC Gun Rights Amendment Stalls DC Voting Rights Bill

As was the case in the 110th Congress, an amendment giving broader gun rights to residents of the District of Columbia, has stalled legislation that would give D.C. residents a vote in the House of representatives. In 2007, the bill was pulled permanently after an amendment (pre-Heller) repealing the D.C. gun ban.

I have to admit I am not a fan of the "D.C. Voting Rights" bill (it's unconstitutional and there is an easy fix for residents that want congressional representation - draw a line around the "Seat of Government" and give back everything else to Maryland which is where the remaining portion of DC came from in the first place). However, if it is going to pass (elections have consequences) it might as well at least stop the D.C. City Council from circumventing the Heller decision.

The Senate last week added the gun rights amendment to its version of the D.C. voting rights bill (Senators Warner and Webb voted yes). D.C. officials hoped the House version would not pass with the amendment and force the Senate in negotiations to remove its gun amendment. D.C. officials held a little protest to the amendment yesterday.

However, the House Rules Committee abruptly canceled a meeting it had scheduled for yesterday in preparation to move the bill to the House floor today. It became clear conservative Democrats who are pro-rights had enough support to force a vote on the gun law amendment and may pull their support of the bill without it.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said action on the bill would be delayed for at least the rest of the week.

"The irony is . . . if [the amendment] passes, we may not be able to pass the bill"

Many assumed Democrats would use their enhanced majority power to pass a rule that would bar gun amendments. D.C. "Delegate" Eleanor Holmes Norton told the Washington Post, the NRA had other plans. According to the Post, Norton said NRA told lawmakers that it might score their votes on the rule for the D.C. bill, meaning representatives could be recorded as casting an anti-gun vote if they approved a rule blocking amendments on the D.C. vote bill.

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