Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

by Hannah Hess, Roll Call  |  published on July 19, 2014

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Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is optimistic about Senate support for an appropriations rider that would dismantle local gun laws in the District of Columbia, but he doubts the chamber will consider the measure.

“Twenty rank-and-file Democrats in the House voted for the amendment, and I know Democrats in the Senate would vote for the amendment,” Massie said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that Harry Reid will do everything he can to prevent that vote from happening.”

The Senate majority leader’s office did not respond to questions about Massie’s pro-gun proposal, which would make D.C. perhaps the most permissive jurisdiction in the nation. Neither did some of the vulnerable red-state Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee who are up for re-election in November — Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary L. Landrieu — who have also advocated greater autonomy for the District.

Massie’s amendment would likely have a Senate sponsor in Kentucky Republican Rand Paul — if a Financial Services Appropriations bill with such language makes it to the floor.

“Yes, if given the opportunity,” Paul spokesman Brian Darling told CQ Roll Call in response to a question about support for language that would wipe out local gun laws in the District and instead make D.C. subject only to federal firearm restrictions. Darling said the “big question” is whether the Senate will take up the legislation with the appropriations process stalled in the chamber and whether senators would be allowed to offer amendments.

When Paul introduced an amendment to the now-dead sportsmen’s bill that would have altered D.C. gun laws, home-rule advocates called the libertarian a hypocrite for not allowing locally elected officials to write their own gun laws. Darling indicated Paul believes very strongly in the Bill of Rights and that no state or the District of Columbia should trample on a citizen’s Second Amendment rights.

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