Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) introduced a bill March 15 seeking to do away with the prohibition of assault and high-capacity weapons in Washington, D.C.
Bills like this have been proposed up to eight times in the past congressional year. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, has been a frequent sponsor of such bills and is currently cosponsoring Garrett’s bill.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, a nonvoting delegate to the House from D.C., said she does not think the bill will get to the House floor.
“[Garrett] may disagree with our gun laws, but it’s not his business,” Norton said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily. “What we’re saying to him is he better stay out of our business and mind the business of his constituents. We also note the hypocrisy of a Freedom Caucus member, whose mantra is local control, interfering with the local affairs of somebody’s else’s district”.
In 2015, there was a small spike in gun-related murder rates in D.C., but the overall total of gun-related murders has gone down over time.
Although the 1973 Home Rule Act empowered D.C to elects its own mayor and governing council, Congress has ultimate legislative authority over the nation’s capital city.
The topic is also controversial since it was revealed only a few weeks ago that a major gun trafficking ring had been bringing weapons from Virginia to Brooklyn, N.Y., due to the less restrictive gun laws that make it easier to buy a gun cheaply in the Commonwealth and sell it at a high price in New York City.
“When we see the gun bust that happened a few weeks ago, included gun trafficking from Virginia to New York, we see that laws are a bit lax in Virginia and are being taken advantage of,” said Virginia Chambers, a first-year College student and University Democrats communications coordinator. “We think safety is one the most important considerations, so in terms of gun laws we are definitely pro-responsible gun control; so things we would support are laws that require gun owners to have training, or a minimum waiting period to make sure we can close gun loopholes.”
With Garrett’s bill being introduced in the wake of this news, it may call to question the tighter gun laws in D.C. when compared to the more lenient ones in Garrett’s own state.
Adam Kimelman, a second-year College student and newly-elected College Republicans chair, said the majority of the College Republicans are in favor of the bill — but the bill will likely get pushback from Democrats, including Norton.
“The last time a bill was introduced, it wasn’t able to get too far. But that was with a Democratic president and a Democratic senate for part of it at least, so we might get a little momentum here,” Kimelman said.
In the past, bills attempting to loosen D.C.’s gun laws have never passed both the Senate and House of Representatives. It is unclear whether Garrett’s bill will have the same fate.
Garrett was unavailable for comment. He will be holding a town hall event at Garrett Hall on Friday at 6 p.m.