- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson said this morning he will propose emergency legislation Tuesday that will legalize semi-automatic handguns in the District, a move likely to draw fire from residents and anti-violence community groups.

Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the council’s public safety committee, said he crafted the legislation thinking that the District’s prohibition on semi-automatic pistols “would not stand up to judicial scrutiny.”

The bill would undercut two federal challenges to the law a bill in the U.S. House to be considered Tuesday that would relax gun control in the District and a lawsuit in U.S. District Court filed by Dick Anthony Heller of the District v. Heller Supreme Court case.

“The Supreme Court has spoken and we have to act accordingly,” said Mr. Mendelson, on the council first day after summer recess. “We are still going to have a strong gun control law.”

The Heller case in June struck down the District’s 32-year-old ban on handguns, but did not address the city’s broad definition of a machine gun, which effectively bans most semi-automatic pistols.

The law defines a machine gun as any gun capable of firing 12 or more rounds without being reloaded. The decision based on testimony from gun advocates in July.

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