GUN FEVER in the House is behind the push for approval today of two destructive exercises of raw firepower aimed directly at the people and government of the District of Columbia. One would repeal outright the District's law prohibiting the possession of firearms. The second would allow the possession of loaded handguns in homes. Both proposals come out of the blue -- with total disregard for the wishes, safety or democratic rights of D.C. citizens -- and should be rejected.
Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia, sponsor of the proposed repeal, and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, sponsor of the loaded-gun measure, are offering their proposals as amendments to the "Mandatory Gun Show Background Check Act" -- a watered-down House response to the already-weak "gun control" bill approved by the Senate. Regardless of how empty the House package may be at the end of the day, the two District-bashing provisions have no place in any gun legislation enacted by Congress.
If anything, lawmakers serious about answering public demands for relief from gunfire should be pressing for a national ban on the general marketing of concealable weapons, not for repeal of one small, constructive effort. The gun pushers love to cite the District as an example of how ineffective a firearms ban is -- knowing full well how easily it can be thwarted in this city when guns are everywhere around it.
The proposals to gut the District's 23-year-old gun control laws were slipped, without notice, into the House debate Tuesday night -- without so much as an advisory phone call to the District's only elected official in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, or to Mayor Anthony Williams, any member of the elected council or the police chief. Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp noted that besides being one of the worst attacks ever by Congress on the limited home rule in this city, the repeal would send a signal "to the wrong people that it is all right to own guns." Said Ms. Norton, "As outrageous as our crime rate has been, who can doubt that it would be far worse if guns were freely available here."
Opening the gates to a new flood of firearms in the District of Columbia is no way for Congress to respond to the growing coast-to-coast concerns about the proliferation and free flow of guns. The prospects for any effective response by Congress this year are poor enough already.