Sen. Dianne Feinstein displayed 10 rifles at a press conference in a Senate office building Thursday that are illegal in the District of Columbia. The California Democrat declared that the guns were legal, due to a prearranged deal with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). She used the firearms as a prop while announcing her new super-charged “assault weapons ban.”
Brian Weiss, a spokesman for Mrs. Feinstein, told The Washington Times, that, “The weapons were under Washington MPD possession the entire time.” He said that the office “coordinated with the department” and the U.S. Capitol Police.
MPD Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s spokesman, Gwendolyn Crump, would not respond to an inquiry but referred all questions on the subject matter to the U.S. Capitol Police.
A spokesman for the Capitol Police, Officer Shennell S. Antrobus, responded two hours later that his department “helped the transfer within the building” of the firearms, which were then “in possession of law enforcement there.” He would not say what agency was overseeing the contraband weapons, nor who authorized breaking the city’s assault weapons ban. It is unclear if any law enforcement agency has the power to overturn the city’s firearms ordinances on its own.
Officer Antrobus referred all other questions back to Mrs. Feinstein’s press staff and to the sergeant at arms office, which was closed for the day.
The city’s firearms laws, which were put in place after the Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that overturned the 30-year handgun ban, do not allow for any rifles that have a detachable magazine and any one of the following: a pistol grip, thumbhole stock, folding or telescoping stock, grenade or flare launcher or flash suppressor.
The city bans specific makes and models which includes all the AK series, Bushmaster, Armalite AR 180 and Colt AR 15, among many others.
In December, NBC News’ David Gregory asked MPD for permission to possess an illegal 30-round magazine at his D.C. studio. The police denied his request, but he went ahead with the publicity stunt anyway. After an almost month long investigation, the police turned the evidence over to the District’s Office of the Attorney General, who refused to prosecute.
The gun laws in D.C. may be pointless, but they apply to everyone equally. There is not an exception in the city’s restrictive firearms laws for members of Congress, nor for famous TV personalities. If Mrs. Feinstein wants to put even more gun bans on the books, she should at least respect the laws to which regular people in Washington have to adhere.
Click here to read: MILLER: David Gregory gets off scot free
Emily Miller is senior editor of the opinion pages for The Washington Times. Her “Emily Gets Her Gun” series on the District’s gun laws won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism. Click here to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.