City Desk

Another Congressman Tried to Mess With D.C. Gun Laws on the House Floor

The District has had a rough couple of weeks trying to rebuff attempts by officials from outside the District trying to screw with happenings inside the District. There's Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, who wants to block funding for D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law. And then Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who wants to gut the city's strict gun laws.

Last night on the House floor, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky tried unsuccessfully to introduce an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2015 that would prohibit D.C. officials from enforcing gun laws that are inconsistent with federal laws.

His amendment read:

None of the funds made available by this Act, including amounts made available under titles IV or VIII, may be used by any authority of the government of the District of Columbia to prohibit the ability of any person to possess, acquire, use, sell or transport a firearm except to the extent such activity is prohibited by Federal law.

When trying to introduce the amendment last night, Massie argued that D.C.'s gun registration process is "ridiculous" and that required waiting periods are "arbitrary," amounting to "pure harassment."

"Why would the D.C. government want to punish and harass law-abiding citizens who simply want to defend themselves from criminals?" he asked. "Does anyone actually believe that strict gun control laws will prevent criminals from getting guns?"

Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, objected to the introduction of the amendment, saying it violated rules by changing existing laws through a spending bill. (Serrano is the same congressman who defended D.C.'s right to govern itself when Harris tried to block D.C.'s decriminalization law with his amendment.)

The presiding chair agreed with Serrano, and despite an attempt by Massie to appeal the ruling, he was not allowed to introduce the amendment.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton released a statement saying that Massie forced his own party "to humilate him" on the floor.

Once the Chair called a point of order on Rep. Massie’s amendment, he was not only out of order, but he went on to show he was out of his league. It was high drama tonight, with D.C. winning this round, and Rep. Massie demonstrating he was not ready for primetime on the House floor. In the end, rather than give up on the procedural flaw in his amendment, Rep. Massie could not resist piling on to violate the District’s right to self-government despite his professed tea party, states’ rights principles. Rep. Massie has introduced only ten bills in the 113th Congress compared to my 64. His low productivity for the people of Kentucky he represents demonstrates he needs to get to work to bring home something for Kentucky rather than meddle in the local affairs of another Member’s district.

Norton noted in her press release that Massie could try to reintroduce the amendment tomorrow.

Earlier this week, the White House threatened to veto the House appropriations bill, in part because it contains amendments interfering with D.C. laws.

Gun photo by Shutterstock

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  • Chris

    If you haven't tried to get a handgun in the district (I have), what right do you have to comment on the process?

    Do you honestly think Serrano or Holmes has any idea? Doubtful.

    How about you Perry Stein? Do you know the process? Have you ever tried to get a licensed firearm? And have you compared the process to Virginia (no licensing whatsoever) and Maryland?

    Until then, perhaps the "screwing" with DC law actually makes sense. I don't really think you have any idea.

  • Ryan

    Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday: heroic lawmen or murdering thugs trying to take away our rights?

  • cminus

    Friends of mine who have gone through the gun registration process in DC say it's more annoying than it needs to be but certainly doable, and anyone who's not smart or mature enough to get through it probably shouldn't own a gun anyway. It hardly seems worth Congressional action.

  • Typical DC BS

    I believe it IS worth Congressional action, since DC DENIED their citizens the RIGHT to own a gun for over 20 years and continue to do everything in their power to deny this basic right to self-defense.

  • Ryan

    Why does your self-defense require the use of deadly force?

  • DC’s Love Child

    Typical DC don't know what you're talking about. Clearly you don't live in the District. If you can navigate the DMV to get a drivers' license then you can navigate the process to register a gun in the city. How dare you suggest Congress get involved when they have yet to hold anyone accountable for the financial collapse in 2007 or those responsible for taking us to a fake war in Iraq. Certainly their time and efforts are better spent on those issues rather than what the citizens of the District of Columbia are doing. Huh?

  • Typical DC BS

    If you have to ask that question, Ryan, you need to evaluate your common sense and lack of US History knowledge.

  • Rick

    Independent of the specific issue at hand, Eleanor Holmes Norton's statement is a classic example of an embittered person who has lost sight of how to develop and maintain the political relationships necessary to advance DC's interests. She has been there since 1902, will unfortunately never be defeated in an election, and needs to retire. There's a new generation of leaders waiting.

  • cminus

    DC's current gun laws have passed judicial review, and must thus be accepted as constitutional. Plenty of people have purchased and registered firearms under these laws, so they cannot be characterized as a firearms ban under a different name. I know some of those people who have gone through the registration process, and they did not believe the process was unduly burdensome. Congress can find something better to worry about.

    Heck, if they really want to pass DC-specific legislation (since they lack the ability to pass national legislation these days), I can think of plenty of better things for them to focus on. The National Park Service, for example, has clearly mismanaged a number of DC parks; Congress could definitely do something constructive by holding NPS's feet to the fire on that.

  • Ryan

    @Typical DC BS-
    Are you saying you think that our government is going to deny you representation and you will have to take up arms against the government in an attempt to win self rule? If that's the case and you choose to live in DC then I have some bad news for you.
    Are you worried the neighboring tribes of Native Americans are going to raid the city and you will be called upon as part of the local militia to defend us?
    Do you plan on declaring that your right to deny someone else's humanity trumps their federal rights and you can no longer be a part of this union?
    Do you think the penalty for home invasion is death and there is no other possible way you can conceive of to protect yourself in such a situation?
    Which one is it? Why do you need to wield deadly force?

  • Jonah

    cminius, I am a DC firearms owner and there are in fact major problems. We had to force court action to hno have several unconstitutional portions removed, and more cort action is coming.

    According to DC law a person coming back from the range who has had a expended brass portion fly into their pants cuff is committing a felony. No state has such a law on expended shells

    According to DC law a married couple that wants one gun in the home HAS to get two since it is felony (for both parties) to touch someone elses gun except in a life threatening emergency. This means no dry fire at home, no cleaning no trips to the range with your spouses firearm. No state except DC has such a law. DC will NOT even issue my spouse a firearm licence, even though she can take and pass all the tests and background checks without a NEW second gun purchase.

    DC also effectively forces a $150 fee for transfer of guns within a family.

  • Bruce Majors

    One wonders how many of Norton's 64 bills she is bragging about went anywhere. Also did she manage to offer an amendment today to eliminate the Harris amendment by which Andy Harris was going to stop DC decriminalization. I heard she was giving up. Too bad the term limits voters passed in1996 were illegally nullified by the city council. Maybe then EHN would have been replaced with someone who would have.

    Marijuana becomes decriminalized, somewhat, tonight. But Maryland Congressman Andy Harris has offered an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriation bill voted on today to overturn that. Harris's amendment to the Financial Services Appropriation Bill comes to the floor for a vote today. Delegate Norton should offer an amendment to eliminate his amendment interfering with DC's autonomy. If she can't do that, what good is the DC Democratic Party?

  • S.E.


    Why is it that these Congressmen (who claim to care so much about about D.C.) don't present these bills by themselves instead of attaching them as amendments?

  • Typical DC BS

    @Ryan: Thanks for explaining the liberal, weenie viewpoint so well. Guess you are SOOO dense that you fail to understand that you have the absolute right to defend yourself in your home, since EVERY jurisdiction in this country recognizes if someone breaks into your house, you have the right to do whatever it takes.

    Or are you, with your faux intellectual arguments, really that stupid to think those of us with working brains prefer to kowtow to someone who breaks into your house and hope they don't harm you or your family?

    Since you're obviously an apartment dweller, we can ignore your completely idiotic bloviating.

  • Ed

    The amended bill passed today! Thank You Congressman Thomas Massie

  • cminus

    @Typical, remember that "whatever it takes" is not the same thing as an absolute right to defend yourself, as in most states you can be prosecuted for doing more than was reasonably necessary. Remember that guy in Minnesota who expected burglars, so he laid in wait for them, shot them, and then finished them off execution-style? He's serving a life sentence, because in Minnesota you can't deliberately lay in wait and you certainly can't legally shoot someone even after it's clear they no longer present any threat to you.

    I say this because you seem like the kind of gun owner who doesn't buy a gun in case they need to defend themselves, but rather one who buys a gun in the hopes that they'll get to defend themselves, and this clarification could keep you out of legal trouble if your dreams come true.

  • Ryan

    @Typical, you are so right. The only options when someone breaks into your home are shoot to kill or curl up in a ball and beg for mercy. If only non-lethal self defense were a choice, so us wimps of the world could pick up a stun gun or mace or what have you and subdue the intruder without killing them. You may have the right to shoot someone in your home, but that doesn't make it a moral thing to do.

    And by the way, since you are so concerned with my residence, I live in a row house and my baseball bat and I have confronted people on our property in the middle of the night several times.