District of Columbia Personal Protection Act

Date: Sept. 29, 2004
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Guns

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PERSONAL PROTECTION ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 29, 2004)

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 803, I call up the bill (H.R. 3193) to restore second amendment rights in the District of Columbia, and ask for its immediate consideration.


Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my strong opposition to H.R. 3193, the so-called District of Columbia Personal Protection Act.

I do not agree with the premise that more hand guns and assault weapons in the District will mean less crime on the streets of our Nation's Capital. The experts don't either. The Mayor of the District, Anthony Williams, strongly opposes this bill. The District's Chief of Police, Charles Ramsey, recently said that "to reduce crime and prevent more senseless tragedies like the recent killings in Anacostia and Ballou, we need fewer-not more-weapons....." The District's Delegate in the Congress ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, is strongly against this legislation, as is the City Council.

Why, Mr. Speaker, do all these District leaders oppose this effort to overturn their gun laws? Because, to cite just recent examples, they have seen their neighbors, their family, and their co-workers mourn the loss of 16 local children killed by guns this year. And yet, today in the House, a place secured from weapons by metal detectors at every entrance and protected by our own dedicated police force, we are voting on legislation that will overrule the District's own sensible gun laws.

Today, I have heard from a number of my colleagues who support this legislation that the District of Columbia is the murder capital of the United States and that the best way to solve this problem is to increase access to hand guns and assault weapons. But what I want to ask is why we are not actually helping the District with its real underlying problems. Why are we not doing more to support the police officers on the streets of the District? Why are we not doing more to support after-school programs to keep children off the streets and away from guns and crime? Why are we not providing funds for job training and other educational programs for the District's residents, who desperately want to end the cycle of crime that plagues many of their District's communities? The simple answer is that this legislation is based not on sound public policy or on a desire to end gun-related crimes; this is a politically motivated attempt to curry favor with the National Rifle Association and other opponents of reasonable gun safety.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot understand why those who, day after day, rail on the floor of the House about their support for federalism are now taking significant steps to trample the right of the District to decide its own affairs. If my colleagues who support this measure really feel that the District should repeal its gun registration laws, repeal its assault weapons ban, and allow "cop killer" bullets on the streets, then I recommend that they register to vote in the District and lobby their local councilmember for such a change. This is the appropriate way to change the laws of the District of Columbia.

The elected leaders of the District of Columbia do not want this legislation. The people of the District of Columbia do not want this legislation. If passed, this legislation will put more people at risk of being shot with assault weapons or handguns-particularly at risk are children and police officers. It's time to stand up to the gun lobby and oppose legislation that will make the District of Columbia less safe. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote no on H.R. 3193.