Sen. Marco Rubio has a well-deserved reputation for being a windbag who huffs and puffs but never quite blows anything down. The Florida Republican is relentless, however, when it comes to throwing his weight against the District. Nothing like beating up on someone who can’t fight back.
Rubio’s bill went nowhere when introduced in 2015. But with a Republican-controlled Congress, and a president who has a concealed-carry permit and a National Rifle Association endorsement, Rubio might finally get a win.
If he succeeds, the District will be the big loser.
Besides undoing the city’s gun laws, Rubio’s bill would make it easy for residents and visitors to get a concealed-carry permit. That’s right, stand in line at the checkout counter, stroll through the city’s streets or have a row with a neighbor, all while packing heat.
Rubio’s bill would also strip the D.C. Council and mayor of their ability to pass future gun-control restrictions, and it would allow D.C. residents to buy guns in neighboring states such as Virginia, where purchasing requirements are as weak as water.
Rubio would inflict all this upon the District because, as he said in his introductory statement, “In order to achieve the American Dream, people need to be able to live in safe communities and be able to protect themselves, their families and their properties from danger.” Rolling back gun restrictions “will make Washington, D.C., a safer place for law-abiding citizens, and will restore the original intent of the Second Amendment to our nation’s capital,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
To which I humbly ask, if restoration of Second Amendment rights is good for the District, why not extend that basic goodness to Capitol Hill?
After all, nowhere is the lawful exercise of the Second Amendment, as Rubio and the NRA define it, more infringed upon than at the U.S. Capitol.
Congress’s restrictions leave little wiggle room. According to rules of the Architect of the Capitol: “The following items are strictly prohibited in the Capitol, including the Capitol Visitor Center: . . . Guns, replica guns, ammunition and fireworks . . . electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices.”
That’s right. If you are a law-abiding citizen, have passed a background check, received firearm training, have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, carry a loaded gun and want to visit your senator or representative, or sit in the House or Senate gallery, or eat in the cafeteria, you simply cannot.
How can Rubio and the gun rights movement let that be?
Their whole premise is that the power of self-defense rests with the people, and that, as the NRA preaches, “no person is left to depend solely on the state’s good graces for his or her very life.”
So why limit the power of self-defense to D.C. residents? Shouldn’t those powers be bestowed upon our fellow Americans who visit Congress?
It’s not as if the Capitol complex is immune from gunplay.
Recall nearly a year ago when a man from Tennessee attempted to go through metal detectors at the Capitol Visitor Center entrance, got stopped and pulled out what appeared to be a weapon. He got shot for his trouble by a Capitol police officer, and a bullet fragment injured a female civilian bystander.
Remember, too, the man carrying a sign who pulled out a gun and killed himself near the Capitol fountain in April 2015. Or the young mother who was shot and killed by police on the Capitol grounds in 2013 after she had driven into White House security barriers.
Rubio seems worried sick that the city’s gun restrictions are rendering law-abiding D.C. residents “vulnerable to criminals who could care less what the gun laws are.” Well, what about our fellow Americans who visit Capitol Hill? Shouldn’t they be able to protect themselves?
A Capitol Police spokeswoman told Yahoo News that members of Congress may keep firearms in their office and may transport them, too — as long as they’re unloaded.
Why can’t lawmakers bring loaded guns to work? What’s wrong with allowing the public to enter congressional offices or attend public hearings with the reassurance of pistols at their side?
If the presence of a gun-toting public is good enough for the streets of our nation’s capital, shouldn’t the same be good enough on congressional grounds?
Surely Rubio must see it that way. Or is the job of restoring the Second Amendment to Capitol Hill too big for the big, bad senator?
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