Monday, August 25, 2008

House vote to repeal new D.C. gun law possible

Washington, D.C. politicos are wringing their hands at the prospect of a House vote to overturn the city's new gun laws, passed in the wake of the Supreme Court's historic Heller decision overturning the city's decades old ban.
A decision by House Democrats to allow a vote next month on a proposal to gut the city’s handgun law has stunned local home rule advocates and could foretell a congressional overturn of a future same-sex marriage bill, according to city hall insiders.

Developments surrounding proposed House action to weaken the city’s controversial handgun law come at a time when some gay activists are urging Mayor Adrian Fenty and the D.C. Council to approve legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the District. Members of the Council are said to be considering introducing a same-sex marriage bill next year.

“The issue at hand is not so much gun-related as it is ensuring that District of Columbia elected officials be able to discharge the duties for which their constituents elected them,” said Fenty and City Council Chair Vincent Gray (D-At-Large) in a letter to House Democrats opposing congressional action on the gun law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House Democratic leaders said they oppose congressional interference on any local D.C. laws or legislation, including gun control measures. But Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues were forced to back down from a hold they had placed on the House D.C. gun bill after at least 48 House Democrats signed a discharge petition initiated by Republicans and conservative Democrats seeking to force Pelosi to allow a vote on the bill.

Under longstanding House rules, a discharge petition signed by at least 218 House members triggers an automatic vote on the specified bill, bypassing the normal committee process and stripping the authority of the majority party to block such a bill.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has called the House gun bill an “unprecedented attack” on the city’s home rule government and a “radical” move that diminishes local authority.
Eugene Kinlow Jr., outreach director for the D.C. voting rights advocacy group D.C. Vote, said he believes the efforts to overturn the city’s handgun law are being driven by election year politics and the influential national gun lobby.
“What Congress is trying to do now is appease the [National Rifle Association] and the gun lobby at the expense of D.C.,” Kinlow said.

“We think it’s terrible,” he said. “You don’t see Congress making rules or laws for any other state.” [emphasis added]

Article here. Someone should inform Mr. Kinlow that D.C. isn't a state, and that the Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 8) gives Congress plenary power over the District. Oh, and that Congress passes laws that preempt state laws all the time.

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