House votes to repeal Washington D.C. handgun ban

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Tuesday, July 5, 2005

D.C. handgun possession exemptions are granted to police, guards, retired police and to residents who owned them prior to 1976 when the ban took effect.

A 30-year ban on loaded shotguns, rifles and handguns in homes and businesses is set for repeal in Washington DC, where one of the strictest gun possession laws in the nation is in existence. The House of Representatives voted 259-161 on June 30 to allow an amendment by Mark Souder, R-Ind. to become attached to the federal district’s appropriations bill that later passed 405-18.

“My amendment gives D.C. citizens the same rights at work as they have at home.” said Souder, a congressman from Indiana.

The next step for a repeal is in the Senate where a bill titled “District of Columbia Personal Protection Act” was introduced in May by George Allen, R-Va. and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tx. Senator Allen, who according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch has presidential aspirations in the 2008 election, said of the bill’s introduction that it would, “give the law abiding citizens of the capital their constitutional right to protect themselves again.” It currently has 32 Senate co-sponsors, and sponsorship of the bill is expected to climb to 50 in the 100-member chamber before debate on the bill's passage begins.

Passage of the Senate bill would overturn the city law that has support from the mayor, city council, police chief and many of its citizens. The law requires trigger locks on all firearms or they must be kept disassembled. Handguns are banned outright.

District residents are witness to a federal legislation process that many see as trampling upon their permanent residency status. Locally elected leaders are able under the Home Rule Act to make their own laws, but local District of Columbia representatives have no vote in either the House or Senate, rendering them helpless in that political arena.

D.C.'s mayor Anthony Williams said, "It's discouraging when members of Congress who don't represent our city try to shove their laws down our throats."

A similar act to repeal the gun ban passed the House in 2004, but it was not taken up by the Senate.