- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

D.C. leaders and gun control activists are calling on Sen. Marco Rubio to withdraw his year-old bill that would rescind the District’s strict gun laws in the wake of last month’s high school shooting in his home state of Florida.

“Our legislature has acted on common sense gun legislation that works for the people of the District of Columbia,” Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “So you can image not only insulted we are but how concerned we are that the actions of the elected representative of the state of Florida impacts the people of Washington, D.C.”

Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican, introduced in January 2017 the Second Amendment Enforcement Act, which would repeal much of the District’s core gun laws such as requiring owners to register their firearms with the Metropolitan Police Department. It also would prevent the D.C. Council and the mayor from restricting guns in the city in the future.

However, Mr. Rubio has expressed support for some gun control measures since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and adults were killed. He has issued a statement supporting suggestions for school safety programs, allowing relatives and police to disarm dangerous gun owners via court orders, and enforcing background checks.

His statement did not address his pending bill on D.C. gun laws, and the senator was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

“This bill goes as far as you can go,” D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said of the Rubio legislation during Tuesday’s conference call. “It would eliminate [bans on] assault weapons like the AR-15 that was used in Parkland. It would allow guns in our schools. It would allow large-capacity magazines and, of course, it would eliminate registration.”

Currently, D.C. gun owners are banned from owning assault weapons and carrying guns openly. They must undergo a lengthy registration and licensing process with police to purchase any firearms. Residents must be at least 21 years old to buy a handgun and must wait 30 days between each firearm purchase.

Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said that the District has worked to bring its regulations into compliance with the Second Amendment and that the Rubio bill targets D.C. residents in a way residents of other states are not.

“Almost all states go beyond the federal law to enact other types of prohibitions or restrictions,” Mr. Horwitz said during the conference call. “With the Rubio bill you say, ‘D.C., you’re special. You can’t go beyond federal law. You can’t safeguard your citizens beyond what the basic federal law says.’”

The District’s decades-long ban on handgun ownership was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2008. A federal judge in 2014 overturned the city’s restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon.

Under the District’s home rule law, Congress must approve D.C. laws and can devise legislation to be applied in the federal city.

Rep. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat, joined in the conference call Tuesday and noted Mr. Rubio’s apparent change-of-heart about some gun control measures during a tense town hall meeting on CNN last month after the Parkland shooting.

“He said that on a stage next to me in an arena full of thousands of residents from the Parkland area,” said Mr. Deutch, whose congressional district includes the site of the high school massacre.

“In front of those millions of Americans watching on TV, he said ‘I absolutely believe in this country if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle, and I will support a law that takes that right away,’” the congressman quoted Mr. Rubio as saying.

Mr. Deutch also called on Mr. Rubio to withdraw his bill on D.C. gun laws.

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