Thursday, February 03, 2005

More on gun control, the farce that is H.R. 3193

If you read the entire article I talk about in the previous post, you will come to the following choice quote at the very end:

"Harry Reid needs to make sure his boys in the Senate don't throw up a filibuster to block [H.R. 1036 & H.R. 3193] from going through."

This little beauty comes from Larry Pratt at Gun Owners of America and has been making lots of DC residents very angry. Here's why:

H.R. 3193 is a bill introduced in 2003 by Mark Souder from Indiana and sent to the Senate for a vote in September 2004. Its title is the District of Columbia Personal Protection Act and it seeks to repeal the District's gun control law. This law is the most restrictive gun law in the country, banning ownership of all handguns not registered before 1976 and severely restricting the ownership of longguns and shotguns. It was passed in 1976 and remains overwhelmingly popular in the District, where gun-related crimes are quite frequent.

This bill disgusts me. It's a classic example of right-wing demagoguery that has the potential to cause great harm in the District. I've lived here for 5 years and I've been mugged twice at gunpoint. Last year something like 24 kids below the age of 18 were shot to death. There are, it seems, already plenty of guns in DC. Mr. Souder presents no evidence suggesting that more guns will make us safer.

Of course, Mr. Souder has claimed that he offered this bill to protect DC citizens. His silence in recent weeks belies that claim. Last month the District hosted the Presidential Inauguration and last month the District incurred $17 million in extra security costs. Traditionally, the city would be reimbursed. This year, it won't. The Administration is making the District take that money out of its homeland security appropriation. Now, if Mr. Souder were really all that concerned with my safety perhaps he would have agitated to have the Administration reimburse those costs. Did he? Nope. And thus, this year, the District has $17 million less than it normally would to provide security to me and every other District citizen.

Ultimately, this bill is detestable because Mr. Souder has taken it upon himself to expressly deny the popular wishes of the people of DC. Twenty-eight years ago citizens elected to severely restrict gun ownership. Since that time, nothing has changed. When Souder first offered the bill, every member of the DC Council, Mayor Williams and our non-voting member of Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, sent him a letter asking him to table the idea. He did not. This is NOT, mind you, an example of him valiantly protecting some repressed minority against majoritarian mistreatment. This is strictly an issue of one man (or group of men) using their legislative powers to circumvent the democratic process in Washington, DC. We have no say when it comes to federal taxes and policy and now, it seems, Mr. Souder wants to ensure that we have no say when it comes to local policies too.