The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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Report: NRA-Backed Bill Would Allow Military-Style Weapons On Streets Of Nation's Capital


The Brady Center has issued a report, Capital Under Fire, analyzing
the impact of a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives that
would eliminate most of the gun laws in the District of Columbia.

"It is hard to believe that the recent anniversary of the terrible
losses suffered on 9/11 will be followed so closely by the House
considering a bill threatening Homeland Security and our nation's
capital city," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center. "This
proposal by the gun lobby would allow AK-47's, .50-caliber sniper
rifles, and other military-style weapons on the streets of D.C.
Congress needs to defeat this ill-considered proposal."

The Brady Center report highlights the real-world effects the bill,
H.R. 6691, could have on the Nation's Capital. It would allow people
to carry loaded assault weapons on city streets. It would remove
restrictions barring gun possession by people who have committed
violent or drug-related misdemeanor crimes unrelated to domestic
violence; by mental patients who had been voluntarily committed to a
mental institution; and even by the blind. Teenagers and children
would be allowed to carry assault and sniper rifles, as the bill
repeals all age restrictions on the possession of long guns. D.C.
would be barred from imposing any reasonable requirements on gun
possession, such as firearms proficiency or vision testing.

DC Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told a Congressional committee on
September 9, 2008 to "imagine how difficult it will be for law
enforcement to safeguard the public, not to mention the new President
at the Inaugural Parade, if carrying semi-automatic rifles were
suddenly to become legal in Washington."

The report is available on the Brady Center website at

Among its findings:

  • In addition to military-style assault rifles, the bill
    would allow open carrying of .50 caliber sniper rifles, capable of
    destroying armored personnel carriers, aircraft and bulk fuel and
    ammunition sites. These guns can penetrate several inches of steel, a
    three and a half inch manhole cover, or a 600-pound safe. They are
    accurate at up to 2,000 yards, and can inflict effective damage to
    targets over four miles away.

  • The bill would allow people on terrorist watch lists to
    possess and carry assault rifles in the Capital city as long as they
    did not yet have a criminal or other record that otherwise prohibited

  • The bill would allow many people who have committed a violent or drug-related misdemeanor crime to possess a gun.

Proponents of the bill claim it is needed to "restore Second
Amendment rights in the District of Columbia" even though the Supreme
Court's June 26, 2008 decision on the Second Amendment in D.C. v.
Heller does not mandate the "any gun, anywhere" policy of H.R. 6691.
While that decision struck down D.C.'s ban on handguns in the home,
Justice Scalia wrote that a wide range of gun laws are "presumptively
lawful." This bill attempts to strip D.C. of virtually all its gun
laws while the D.C. government is in the midst of rewriting its laws to
protect the rights actually recognized in Heller.

Both The New York Timesand The Washington Posthave editorialized in strong opposition to the bill. Harry Jaffe, a columnist for the conservative D.C. Examinernewspaper
and self-described National Rifle Association member, wrote "the NRA is
pushing a bill in Congress that is so radical it could turn moderate,
sensible, reasonable gun owners against it."

A vote on H.R. 6691 could come as early as Tuesday, September 16, 2008.

Brady United formerly known as The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence. We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.