D.c. Voting Rights--far Away, So Close

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THE PLANK FEBRUARY 26, 2009

D.c. Voting Rights--far Away, So Close

Just when it seemed the D.C. voting rights bill was on its way to passage, there's a new glitch in the Senate: an amendment, by Republican John Ensign, that would lift virtually all local control laws. That would make the overall bill tough to reconcile with the House version. As the Washington Post reports, 

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he was introducing the amendment because the D.C. Council "has continued to enact onerous and unconstitutional firearms regulations" despite the Supreme Court decision last year overturning the city's ban on handguns.

He produced a large chart on the Senate floor that showed the city's murder rate over the years.

"Can you honestly tell me that gun control in D.C. has been effective?" Ensign asked.

And Republicans wonder why D.C. votes overwhelmingly Democratic. Maybe it's because for all their talk of states' rights and federalism, when it comes to Washington the GOP is aggressively paternalistic, to the point where a senator from Nevada can, with a straight face, presume to tell Washingtonians the best way to run their city. Especially when Ensign's analysis completely misses the point of gun control laws. Maybe, just maybe, it's not D.C.'s laws that are ineffective, but Virginia and Maryland's. And it makes no sense to point to the high murder rate as proof of ineffective laws--we would have to lift the restrictions to know that for sure. Count me among the overwhelming majority of Washingtonians who don't want to try that little experiment. Especially when it's imposed on us from Carson City.

--Clay Risen

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posted in: the plank, business, hospitality, law, politics, john ensign

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