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Sept. 20, 2004

Congressional Republicans support ending D.C. gun restrictions

by Alex Mazerov, Page Editor
This is not original reporting. All information has been compiled from The Washington Post articles “Gunning for the District," “D.C. Gun Bill May Be Linked to Budget" and “House GOP Proposes to Repeal D.C. Gun Bans."

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have proposed legislation eliminating nearly all of the long-standing firearm restrictions in the District of Columbia, home to one of the country’s most stringent gun bans, according to The Washington Post.

The House bill, proposed by Rep. Mark Edward Souder (R-Indiana), would repeal the handgun ban in D.C.; end registration requirements on firearms and ammunition; lift the prohibition of semiautomatic weapons; and decriminalize possession of unregistered firearms or carrying a handgun in one's home or workplace. The legislation, entitled the “D.C. Personal Protection Act," has 228 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, a majority in the 435-member House. Souder said House GOP leaders have promised a vote by the Nov. 2 general election, according to The Washington Post.

Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) introduced a similar bill of the same name in the Senate. It has 34 co-sponsors, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

Both bills also bar the District’s mayor and city council from enacting gun restrictions. Despite this provision, Souder maintains that his bill is not an infringement on the District’s self-governing power, but rather is based on the Second Amendment’s gun rights guarantee.

The House bill is likely to mobilize the GOP gun-rights base and put pressure on rural Democrats and moderate Republicans to take a stand on the controversial issue in a hotly-contested election year. Political analysts on both sides of the debate do not believe the Senate bill will pass; in March, a majority of Senators voted for two high-profile gun control measures.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) argued that the elimination of firearms restrictions will add to the flood of lethal firearms coming into the city and will lead to an increased level of violence. "Republicans are seeking to allow the introduction even of military-style assault weapons into the nation's capital," she said, “first by allowing the nationwide ban to expire and now by leaving this city wide-open to the use and sale of guns." Thirteen children have been killed by gunfire in the District this year, Norton added.

Souder disagreed with Norton’s assessment of D.C. gun violence. The city's homicide rate increased 200 percent from 1976 to 2001, while the national rate grew only 12 percent, he said, according to The Washington Post.. "No one can argue this law's effectiveness. For the fourteenth time in 15 years, they have the murder capital of the world title," he said.



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  • Voice of Reason on September 20, 2004
    The planning of all of this is impecable. We'll check every grandma with a metal bra cup in the airport, then let handguns, AK-47s, TEC-9s, and Uzis into our nation's capitol.
  • Jay Asbell on September 20, 2004
    Your a little late, this has been going on for awile now. It is stupid, and a great example of everything that is wrong with politics in our country.
  • uhhh on September 21, 2004
    "We'll check every grandma with a metal bra cup in the airport..."

    grandmas with metal bra cups???
  • Noel Ibrahim (View Email) on September 21, 2004
    In VA and NY, every gun manufactured and/or sold in those states have ballistics data on file, so if a bullet is found, it can be traced immediately, hopefully DC will do the same.
  • Wildfire on October 1, 2004
    To Noel Ibrahim I’m afraid you are wrong. You say: “In VA and NY, every gun manufactured and/or sold in those states have ballistics data on file, so if a bullet is found, it can be traced immediately” So far this is WRONG. Neither New York nor Maryland (I believe you meant Maryland) have reported A SINGLE PROSECUTION based on matched casings or bullets.( “Ballistics 'fingerprinting' not foolproof”, Baltimore Sun, October 15, 2002. & "Townsend backs New Rule on Sale of Assault Rifles", Washington Post, October 30, 2002) The cost for this lack of success in Maryland exceeds $2,500,000 a year. In Syracuse, the police have not yet submitted 400 handguns for ballistic testing over a three year span because the system is so inefficient.( “400 guns wait to be traced by Syracuse police”, The Post-Standard, December 8, 2002) "Firearms that generate markings on cartridge casings can change with use and can also be readily altered by the users. They are not permanently defined like fingerprints or DNA." (“Feasibility of a Ballistics Imaging Database for All New Handgun Sales”, Frederic Tulleners, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, October, 2001 henceforth “FBID”) "Automated computer matching systems do not provide conclusive results.” (“Feasibility of a Ballistics Imaging Database for All New Handgun Sales”, Frederic Tulleners, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, October, 2001 henceforth “FBID”) “Because bullets are severely damaged on impact, they can only be examined manually”. (“Feasibility of a Ballistics Imaging Database for All New Handgun Sales”, Frederic Tulleners, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, October, 2001 henceforth “FBID”) “Not all firearms generate markings on cartridge casings that can be identified back to the firearm.” (“Feasibility of a Ballistics Imaging Database for All New Handgun Sales”, Frederic Tulleners, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, October, 2001 henceforth “FBID”) The same gun will produce different markings on bullets and casings, and different guns can produce similar markings.(“Handbook of Firearms & Ballistics: Examining and Interpreting Forensic Evidence”, Heard, 1997) The rifle used in the Martin Luther King assassination was test fired 18 times under court supervision, and the results showed that no two bullets were marked alike.( “Ballistics 'fingerprinting' not foolproof”, Baltimore Sun, October 15, 2002) “Every test bullet was different because it was going over plating created by the previous bullet.” I can think of a number of better ways to spend the MILLIONS of dollars wasted on the “Ballistic Fingerprinting” farce . . . like building more prisons. Washington DC would do well to pass a “Vermont style” gun law. Anyone care to explain to me, how making the law-abiding defenseless against criminal attacks is suppose to make them SAFER?
  • Noel Ibrahim (View Email) on October 5, 2004
    I did mean Virginia, thanks, and I am going off what is in my Criminal Justice book that was printed last year.
  • Wildfire on October 6, 2004
    To Noel Ibrahim:
    Which cases does the book say was solved with” ballistic fingerprinting”? (Does it give any references you could research? Or is it “We printed it so you MUST believe it!”)
    I believe, you will find it "Wishful Thinking" instead of fact based information. (It seems too many text books today try to indoctrinate instead of educate.)
    Good Luck in your pursuit of knowledge!
  • Jonathan Brookstone on October 15, 2004
    According to the FBI, handguns account for 76% of gun-related homicides and 51% of all murders even though they account for only a third of all guns. Secondly, the FBI reported a staggering 7176 deaths involving handguns in 2002. Thirdly, the New England Journal of Medicine states that gun ownership triples the likelyhood of murder in a household.

    Obviously, gun deaths are never going to be stopped comletely, even with gun restrictions. But these gun restrictions are certainly a step in the right direction. According to the department of Criminoology at the university of Maryland, immediately after the 1991 hendgun restrictions bell was passed, the murder and the suicide rate dropped by 25% in the months afterwards. This was comming from a city that used to be the murder capital of the US. So clearly, the hanndgun bills had a very positive affect on DC, and ought to be strengthed, not repealed.

    All my sources were valid, check them if you want.

    Loftin C, McDowall D, Wiersema B, Cottey TJ. "Effects of restrictive licensing of handguns on homicide and suicide in the District of Columbia." New England Journal of Medicine 325 (1991): 1,615-20.

    http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe

    Who Dies?: A Look At Firearms Death and Injury in America. Violence Policy Center, Washington, D.C. (August 1997).

    Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, Uniform Crime Reports 1997. Washington, D.C.: Department of Justice (November 22, 1998).

    Wright, M.A., Wintemute, G.J., Rivara, F.P. Effectiveness of Denial of Handgun Purchase to Persons Believed to Be at High Risk for Firearm Violence. American Journal of Public Health, Volume 89, Number 1, pages 88-90 (1999).

    Wintemute, G.J., et al. Prior Misdemeanor Convictions as a Risk Factor for Later Violent and Firearm-Related Criminal Activity Among Authorized Purchasers of Handguns. Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 280, Number 24, Pages 2083-2087 (1998).

    Powell, E.C., Sheehan, K.M., Christoffel, K.K. Firearm Violence Among Youth: Public Health Strategies for Prevention. Annals of Emergency Medicine, Volume 28, Number 2, pages 204-212 (1996).

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