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It’s the vote we want, not guns.

September 10, 2008

After I voted yesterday, for the first time in the District of Columbia, I put on my “I voted!” sticker and fairly strutted home, feeling a gentle yet satisfying sense of superiority that I had done my civic duty when so many others had not (the election yesterday was a not-very-exciting primary in which many of the candidates were running unopposed).

This feeling quickly faded as I walked into the front door of my apartment and heard D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier on the radio saying, “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 semiautomatic rifles were to suddenly become legal in Washington.

“Yeesshh….” I thought, “this gun stuff again.”

The District’s hand gun ban was already struck down by the Supreme Court in June, but now certain members of Congress want to allow semi-automatic weapons as well (H.R. 6691). Their argument is that citizens need to be able to protect themselves from crime. Oh, but why is crime so dangerous in this country? Why? Oh right, because criminals can easily obtain handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Even in my neighborhood, which is generally regarded to be one of the safest in the city (and which I shouldn’t really be able to afford – thank you to my generous landlady!), there was a shooting a few months ago, one block from my building. That specific case was of a backpack snatching turned shooting when the victim attempted to recover his property. If only guns hadn’t been a factor at all.

This tussle over gun laws, juxtaposed with my first experience voting in D.C., also reminds me that I am now officially disenfranchised in Congress. The citizens of the district onto which members of Congress are exerting their will have no voting rights in either the House or the Senate. We pay federal taxes, but we have no say in how they are spent. Congress can decide how we run our law enforcement, but we don’t have any representation there. A most excellent and just situation (I get even more fired up about this when I watch the HBO miniseries John Adams, as I have been doing this week, and thoughts of “taxation without representation” start dancing in my head).

Oh, and one more thing. Last Friday more than a few FCNL staffers were thwarted in their attempt to buy lunch at Burrito Brothers on Pennsylvania Avenue. Why? Because the street was closed off when a man was caught driving around the Capitol with a gun and explosive devices in his Jeep. A similar incident occurred a few months ago, when the Capitol police detained a man caught with a gun. Now, I’m against blowing up Congress as much as the next person, but come on, does anyone else sense some hypocrisy? I do.

A mere 5 days after the Jeep incident Representative Dan Burton (IN) argued for “the idea of legislators’ being able to carry arms for protection on their way home from the Capitol at night.” Come on. At least make it a fair fight. That’s exactly what members of Congress are advocating by loosening the District’s gun ban in the first place is it not? If we’re willing to put guns in the hands of criminals, we might as well put them in the hands of average citizens as well, right?

I just hope the Congress knows what it’s getting itself into. I wonder if there are many history majors in bunch. At the very least I hope they too have been watching John Adams. What was it that happened the last time a heavily armed citizenry was taxed without being represented? Oh that’s right. And really, since D.C. residents generally oppose guns, a lot can be done with tar and feathers.

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