- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2003

Indulge me, dear readers, while I quote myself today:

Some folks have all the nerve.

Now I ask you, how would you like somebody to come into your house and impose new rules for how you and yours will conduct yourself just to suit their needs? To boot, they don’t even bother to offer advance warning that you’re going to have to live under a different set of house rules?

Well, that’s exactly what (FILL IN THE BLANK) did earlier this week when he sneaked a midnight rider onto the already-contentious gun control legislation watering its way down the House aisles.

The real impact will be felt not on (FILL IN THE BLANK’s) conservative constituents in the (FILL IN THE BLANK) but on the unwitting residents of the District of Columbia to whom he is not accountable and for whom his ill-conceived gun control eradication amendment could make “killing fields” of their streets.

What adds insult to injury is that (FILL IN THE BLANK) — who introduced this measure because he does not feel safe in his Capitol Hill apartment that’s protected by two armed police departments — hails from the neighboring state that is responsible for selling the majority of illegal weapons that find their way into the nation’s capital despite its restrictive gun control laws.

As D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says, “This is the worst attack on self-government since the Home Rule Act was enacted.”

As Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told me, “It’s bad legislation and we will do everything in our power to stop it.”

Just when you think you’ve gotten rid of one officious congressional overlord, like (FILL IN THE BLANK), one or two others rear their trespassing heads. The besieged District residents and workers continue to have their daily lives bandied about by the whim and folly of all manner of meddlers except their own duly elected non-voting representative, Mrs. Norton.

Just imagine. There’s (FILL IN THE BLANK) of (FILL IN THE BLANK) who wants to rewrite the District’s consensus budget and reinstate the death penalty.

Now comes (FILL IN THE BLANK), who is joined in his efforts to repeal the city’s 24-year-old gun control law by (FILL IN THE BLANK) of (FILL IN THE BLANK).

For all his ammunition, (FILL IN THE BLANK) wants to arm “law-abiding” District residents — as young as 18 — with loaded guns in their homes and unloaded weapons on their person. He argues that city residents’ constitutional rights are being abridged by the District’s gun-possession prohibitions. He, of course, cares nothing that by his own actions he is abridging city residents of their democratic rights.

How would these butt-ins like it if Mrs. Norton could and would take the opportunity to introduce backdoor, 11th-hour legislation in Congress that could repeal (FILL IN THE BLANK) laws?

Never happen. That’s why these measures should be rejected for their intrusiveness alone.

Now, we can talk until we’re blue in the face about this latest and most egregious infraction of home rule and local autonomy, but these mo’ guns measures are also bad on their merits.

The last thing the nation’s capital needs is easier access to guns.

I kid you not, these words are from a column I wrote that appeared June 18, 1999. Then, the overseer was Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., a Virginia Democrat who later switched his party affiliation. Today, the overseer is Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch. On Tuesday, Mr. Hatch, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, reportedly introduced the D.C. Personal Protection Act that seeks to repeal the District’s 1976 ban restricting handgun possession, end strict registration of ammunition and other firearms, and lift the prohibition on the possession or carrying of weapons in homes and workplaces.

Who asked him? Been there, done that, tore up the T-shirt.

Falling back on the hackneyed hype, Mr. Hatch referred to the disenfranchised District as “the murder capital of the United States” and told The Washington Post that the handgun ban is “as ineffective and deplorable as it is unconstitutional.” Like (FILL IN THE BLANK), of course, Mr. Hatch did not mention the capital of the free world where 570,000 Americans are not only denied a vote and voice in their nation’s legislature, but also their democratic right of local self-governance.

Deja vu. “It’s another D.C. day,” Mrs. Norton said yesterday, shortly after the voucher bill was tabled. The Hatch bill “is a radical attack on the safety of the visitors and the residents of D.C. as it is an attack on home rule.”

She was quoted as saying, “The District is being targeted on guns for the same reason it was targeted on vouchers — because we are helpless without senators and the full panoply of legal rights to protect ourselves.” This hideous hatched act demonstrates yet again exactly why District residents must have more than limited home rule. And if District residents want to repeal the gun ban, so be it.

In fact, a diverse group of D.C. residents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in February saying the city’s handgun ban was a violation of residents’ constitutional rights under the Second Amendment. I can’t defend their position, but I do defend their right, as D.C. residents, to push for their position. However, Mr. Hatch is not acting on their behalf; he is acting in his political self-interest for (FILL IN THE BLANK).

Mr. Hatch is hardly alone. President Bush, who uses District children for photo-op props, is pushing a pittance for vouchers. The National Park Service seeks to close scenic stretches of Beach Drive to daytime drivers to protect Rock Creek Park.

Virginia Republican Thomas M. Davis III raises the thinly veiled specter of retrocession in exchange for voting representation.

Yet, when the District’s duly elected legislature, the D.C. Council, does its duty in the best interests of its constituents by filing suit to force the fair issue of a reciprocal tax, its members are somehow called crazy and criticized for encroaching upon their sovereign state’s rights of their neighbors. Double duplicity.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow: District residents had better beware of benevolent (FILL IN THE BLANK) masters bearing bittersweet (FILL IN THE BLANK) gifts.

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