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Rand Paul Takes Aim at D.C. Gun Laws

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is once again drawing the ire of the District of Columbia’s congresswoman by taking aim at D.C.’s gun laws.  

On Thursday, the libertarian presidential candidate announced he plans to introduce the “Defend Our Capital Act,” which would dismantle some of the District’s gun laws and require the local government to also issue concealed weapon permits. “For too long the Americans who live in and visit their nation’s capital have been prevented from defending themselves and their loved ones,” Paul said in a statement. “No longer should our citizens have to choose between safety or visiting Washington, D.C.”  

According to a statement distributed by Paul’s presidential campaign, his bill would require D.C. to issue concealed weapons permits for both residents and non-residents; honor such permits issued by other states; “eliminate existing District of Columbia laws that restrict firearms and ammunition ownership;” grant conceal and carry weapon permits between states and carry permits by active duty members of the military; allow for firearms to be carried “on public, non-sensitive areas of federal property; and allow for guns to be purchased across state lines.  

The District’s non-voting representative in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, blasted the bill in a Friday statement.  

“The opportunism of now taking a cheap shot at a local jurisdiction, which cannot easily fight back, is shamelessly and patently aimed at boosting his languishing presidential campaign,” Norton said. “When a member repeatedly contradicts his self-professed principles of local control over local affairs, on which he has stood upon his entire life, no one will see him as presidential.”  

This is not the first time Paul has targeted D.C. gun regulations. Paul unsuccessfully attempted to overturn D.C. gun laws in 2014. And Paul’s gun-related amendment halted a bill in 2012 that would have granted the District budget autonomy.  

For Norton, Paul’s bill represented the latest move by a GOP presidential hopeful to target the District’s policies. In April, both Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Ted Cruz introduced measures aimed at the District. In the span of eight days, Rubio introduced a bill relating to gun laws and Cruz introduced a resolution to block a D.C. anti-discrimination law on the grounds that it violated religious freedom.  

Norton said Paul’s bill “follows the shameless trend of Republican presidential candidates interfering with the District’s right to self-government to raise their national profiles.”

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