D.C. City Council Might Pre-emptively Surrender on Guns

The Washington Post is reporting on a bill that D.C.'s City Council might be voting on as early as tomorrow that would seem to largely pre-empt the goals of both the bill moving through Congress that would liberalize D.C.'s gun laws post-Heller and the "Heller II" lawsuit. Some details:

D.C. officials, coping with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threw out the city's handgun ban, have drafted legislation that would do away with several remaining firearms restrictions, including safe-storage requirements and a provision that bars ownership of semiautomatic pistols.

....

Although the move by the city to ease handgun restrictions coincides with the House effort to virtually strip the District of its power to regulate firearms, [Democratic council member Phil] Mendelson said officials are not seeking to placate members of Congress. He said the proposed changes, which he will urge the council to pass Tuesday, result from a careful review of the Supreme Court decision in the weeks since it was issued June 26.

"I think we're addressing the Supreme Court ruling and, coincidentally, addressing Congress's concern," said Mendelson....And by addressing the Supreme Court ruling, he said, "it will pull out the underpinnings of the argument for that legislation."

............

Although the storage requirements would be done away with, a gun owner would be subject to prosecution if a child got hold of a loaded, unlocked firearm. If the child did not hurt anyone, the owner would face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail. If the child injured someone, the owner could be charged with a felony carrying up to five years in prison.

I've been unable to yet read this draft legislation, and am a bit confused by the Post saying both that it would "do away with....provision that bars ownership of semiautomatic pistols" and that it would "ban magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds" since it was that whole "capable" language that has so far allowed D.C. to claim that pretty much any clip-loaded semi-auto is forbidden, but more should be more public soon.

The Hill on the tangled progress through Congress of the bill to overturn D.C.'s existing gun regulations.

And my forthcoming book, Gun Control on Trial, on the Heller case and its many attendent issues.

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  • Elemenope||

    Although the storage requirements would be done away with, a gun owner would be subject to prosecution if a child got hold of a loaded, unlocked firearm. If the child did not hurt anyone, the owner would face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail. If the child injured someone, the owner could be charged with a felony carrying up to five years in prison.

    Just replace "gun" with "car" to see why this is a good idea, *so long as* there is some provision so that an adult can teach a kid how to handle and fire a gun in a controlled setting.

    Other than that, this sounds like unvarnished good news.

  • ||

    [Democratic council member Phil] Mendelson said officials are not seeking to placate members of Congress.

    Okey dokey.

  • libertarian democrat||

    LMNOP,

    6 months in jail for the parent a kid who steals their car without hurting anyone? Really a good idea?

    I do think guns are different, however. But the car argument doesn't work for me.

  • matt2||

    On a related note, check out this rage-inducing cartoon from yesterday's Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinions/cartoonsandvideos/toles_main.html?name=Toles&date=09142008

  • ||

    This is just them trying to retain their ability to have control over the regulations. I hope Congress doesn't let them.

  • ||

    Clip-loaded semiautos might have a fixed box magazine that is not capable of holding more than 10 rounds. I'm not aware of any "clip-loaded" modern semi-auto pistols. 90% of the time the word "clip" is used, as in this case, it is used incorrectly.

    This is a clip:
    http://www.cheesepatrol.com/images/sks/sks4.jpg

    A clip only holds bullets so that they may be loaded into a (typically) fixed magazine.

  • ||

    Brian, most if not all high-capacity semi-autos have mags available that are limited to 10 rounds.

    I have a Para-Ordnance p-14 .45. It came with one fourteen round mags and one ten round mag. Of course, I immediately bought two more fourteen round mags. I don't believe the "crippled" mag has ever seen a bullet.

    Assuming they haven't botched the drafting of their ordinance, it should allow you to possess a semi-auto, even one capable of taking a high-capacity magazine, as long as you don't actually have a high-capacity magazine.

    Of course, banning high-cap mags begs the "rational relationship" question, as in how is a gun more dangerous because it holds 11 rounds rather than "merely" 10?

  • Elemenope||

    ld --

    I'm not endorsing the proposed sanction, only the fact that there *is* a sanction.

    And elsewhere I have noted that I'm not crazy about punishing behavior that *conceivably* could cause harm but for some reason doesn't. However, children are not sovereign agents under the law and parents, as such, bear much of the responsibility for a child's actions.

  • Loupeznik||

    This is the problem with the gun control issue. If the Second Amendment is there to protect us from an oppressive government than no law could practically be imposed against it. The people having the courage to oppose oppression would rise up against this law and that government even if they are in the minority. In this day there are no such men and if there were some sort of complete oppression by the government there would still be none. The people are cowards with or without arms.

  • ||

    Elemenope, that depends on how young one has to be in order to be considered a "child". If the age limit is 10, the law still seems sensible. If it's 18, not so much.

  • Loupeznik||

    bigbigslacker,
    I think you can load a Mauser broom handle with a clip though it does have a magazine. I think it works sort of like a M-14 in that respect. I think we can strike a compromise if they only ban Mauser broom handles.

  • Elemenope||

    Tulpa --

    I agree.

  • libertarian democrat||

    Okay, I think I am with you overall LMNOP. It was just that specific example that bugged me.

  • ||

    how is a gun more dangerous because it holds 11 rounds rather than "merely" 10?

    Well obviously, it goes up to eleven! That's one more, innit?

    -jcr

  • ||

    Gun Free Zone - Get Yours Today!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0vyxgJLJVA

  • Guns Save Lives||

    BTW, the new Springfield XD(M) hold 20 rounds.
    http://www.springfield-armory.com/

  • ||

    And JCR wins the thread!!!

    FWIW, I believe that R.C. Dean is on track with the logic.

    The original ordinance prohibited ownership of firearms capable of holding more than 10 rounds which included any and all firearms for which an extended magazine might possibly be constructed or obtained.

    The new ordinance, using some eerily familiar language (say circa 1994), looks to prohibit the actual magazine size instead of the weapon's ability to accept it.

  • ||

    My bet is that this is an attempt to pre-empt Congress, so that if Congress doesn't do anything they retain the power to repeal these proposed changes at the earliest convenience.

  • ||

    If only Washington D.C. officials were as harsh with criminals as they are with law-abiding citizens wanting to exercise their Constituional rights then perhaps our nation's capital would have some of the lowest crime rates in the nation instead of one of the highest crime rates.

  • Tom Walls||

    There were some aftermarket detachable mags made for the normally fixed 10-round Mauser Broomhandle, but these are not very common. Not the most modern firearm, but the Bolo versions fit shoulder holsters pretty nicely.

  • LarryA||

    Although the storage requirements would be done away with, a gun owner would be subject to prosecution if a child got hold of a loaded, unlocked firearm. If the child did not hurt anyone, the owner would face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail. If the child injured someone, the owner could be charged with a felony carrying up to five years in prison.

    Texas has a similar law, but the penalties are $500 fine if no one is hurt, $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail if someone is. "Child" is anyone under 17. There are exceptions if the child is supervised and had possession for a lawful purpose, was justified in defending himself/herself, or engaged in an agricultural enterprise. Texas Penal Code 46.13.

    I wonder if D.C. said anything about the new handgun registration process. (Pages 2-4 of 7.) (PDF)

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