Revised “District of Columbia Personal Protection Act” Introduced
Thursday, July 31, 2008
This legislation (H.R. 6691) is necessary to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, by repealing the District’s recently enacted unconstitutional restrictions on its residents’ right to keep and bear arms.
1. Repeal D.C. Ban on Semiautomatic Pistols
In Heller, the Court held that “Handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid”. Semiautomatic pistols are the most commonly owned handguns in the United States (75 percent of the handguns sold in the past 20 years are semiautomatics), and are therefore “the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home”. The new D.C. City Council ordinance continues the 30-year old ban on semiautomatic pistols, which clearly violates the Heller decision. This bill repeals D.C.’s ban on semiautomatic pistols in order to comply with Heller.
2. Restore Right of Self-Defense in the Home
In Heller, the Court held that “the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is therefore unconstitutional.” The D.C. ordinance provides that trigger locks may only be removed and firearms made operable if there is an “immediate” threat of danger. Once a threat is “immediate”, however, there is no time to remove a trigger lock or assemble a firearm. This clearly violates the Heller decision. This bill repeals D.C.’s requirement that firearms be disassembled or secured with a trigger lock in the home.
3. Repeal Registration Requirement
The D.C. ordinance maintains an extremely burdensome registration process for handguns and ammunition, requiring: multiple visits to police headquarters; ballistics testing; passing a written test on D.C. gun laws; fingerprinting; and limiting registration to one handgun per 90 days. Each of these must be met before D.C. residents are allowed to legally own a handgun. This bill repeals the current D.C. registration system, which is unduly burdensome and serves as a vehicle for even more onerous restrictions.
4. Allow D.C. Residents to Purchase Handguns
Federal law prohibits the purchase of a handgun outside of a person’s state of residence. There are currently no firearms dealers in the District of Columbia, nor are there likely to be in the near future. Therefore, D.C. residents are allowed under the Heller decision to possess handguns, but are prohibited by federal law from purchasing handguns. This bill creates an exemption to the federal ban on interstate handgun sales by allowing D.C. residents to purchase handguns in Virginia and Maryland.
Copyright 2008, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action.
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