Sen. Rand Paul introduced legislation Thursday that would legalize concealed carry in the nation’s capital, and local politicians are furious about the plan.
Paul’s “Defend Our Capital” bill, is meant “to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia,” he said, but detractors claim the plan would trample on local government’s ability to enact laws. Paul’s bill will require D.C. to acknowledge concealed carry permits issued by other states and begin issuing concealed carry permits to residents.
It would also eliminate existing local laws that severely restrict the ability to own firearms and ammunition and allow for the carrying of firearms on some federal property not considered to be “sensitive areas.”
Paul is using a procedural gimmick to expedite consideration of the bill. Paul began the Rule XIV process Friday that could allow the bill to skip regular committee consideration and be placed directly on the Senate calendar.
The district’s non-voting delegate to Congress has routinely blasted Paul for his efforts to bring concealed carry to the city.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said forcing the legislation on a city that didn’t vote for him goes against his Libertarian principles and he is using the bill to extend his failing presidential campaign.
“Senator Rand Paul’s hypocrisy apparently knows no bounds as he uses every trick in the book to have the federal government trample on the District’s local rights,” Norton said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Paul’s bill not only turns its back on his local control principles, but it would effectively turn the nation’s capital into the Wild West at a time when mass shootings are occurring across the country.”
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson called Paul’s plan nothing more than “hollow rhetoric” meant to rile up his base.
“Some of these folks, like the senator, do this in the name of the Second Amendment despite of the fact that courts are not on their side,” Mendelson said during an interview on WAMU’s “The Politics Hour.”
The courts, though, aren’t entirely against Paul. In fact, a federal judge recently overturned key parts of D.C.’s restrictive gun laws.
District officials and federal lawyers are engaged in an ongoing court battle over D.C.’s gun ban after a federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional last year.
In response to the ruling, D.C. council passed a slightly less restrictive concealed carry law that requires any D.C. resident seeking to carry a gun to prove “good reason to fear injury to his or her person” in order to obtain a permit. In May, a federal judge ruled that law unconstitutional as well.
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. blocked the law after gun rights advocates brought a lawsuit against the city claiming the law makes it almost impossible for residents to obtain the permit to carry a gun. They say the law sometimes takes months to complete.
“For all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Scullin wrote in his 23-page opinion.