Wednesday, July 30, 2008

House Bill Would End D.C. Registration Rules

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; B04

D.C. officials are trying to beat back an effort by some lawmakers to send a bill to the House floor that would dramatically weaken the city's gun laws.

The gun bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Mark Souder (R-Ind.), was introduced previously and stalled. The measure now stands a good chance of gaining approval by the House of Representatives because of an unusual legislative maneuver, congressional staff members and observers said.

Souder said he acted because the D.C. government has made only limited changes to its 32-year-old handgun ban since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that it was unconstitutional. In particular, he said, the city's new, temporary legislation still requires handgun owners to keep their weapons disassembled or secured with a trigger lock unless someone in the home was in danger. The District also continues to prohibit residents from owning semiautomatic handguns.

"The net impact is to defy the Supreme Court," Souder said.

The bill would repeal the District's ban on semiautomatic pistols and eliminate all registration requirements.

Souder is seeking to bring the bill to the floor through a "discharge petition," which requires the signatures of 218 House members. The move allows the measure to bypass House committees, and forces the Democratic majority to allow the full chamber to vote on it.

Since filing the petition last week, Souder has collected 109 signatures. He is confident of picking up sufficient support since 247 legislators had previously co-sponsored the gun bill, including 56 Democrats...

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