Congress mulls taking over D.C. gun regulations

A serious discussion about overhauling the District of Columbia’s gun laws after last term’s historic Supreme Court decision D.C. v. Heller took place in the district yesterday. But it wasn’t a D.C. Council plan that was being discussed.

Instead the hearing took place on Capitol Hill, where Congress is moving to enact legislation that would not only codify the Supreme Court’s ruling that the district’s handgun ban violated the Constitution. The bill would also eliminate the district’s gun registration requirement, throw out its ban on rifles and semi-automatic assault weapons, and end the requirement that guns be stored locked and unloaded.

But at yesterday’s hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, D.C. officials were far from pleased with the bill. The district already amended its regulations to allow handgun bans, but keep the ban on assault rifles and requirement for registration.

“Imagine how difficult it will be for law enforcement to safeguard the public, not to mention the president at the inaugural parade,” testified D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, The New York Times reported. “In attempted and successful assassinations around the world, the first step in attacking a motorcade is frequently to take out the security detail with semiautomatic and automatic firearms.”

But Chris W. Cox, a lobbyist for the NRA, which supports H.R. 6691, said the bill wouldn’t result in a parade of horribles. “The legislation permits people to have a weapon in their home, and only in their home, and anyone that says otherwise is flat-out lying,” Mr. Cox said.

Another competing House bill introduced by Congress that would simply codify existing D.C. law was also discussed at the hearing.

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