Even though we don't often weigh in on local D.C. political issues, the Sojourners policy team made an exception on a new piece of legislation that would have a direct impact on gun violence in the District. We signed Sojourners on to a faith-group letter last week opposing the bill described in this New York Times editorial:
The bill, which seems headed toward passage in the House, is advertised by its supporters as a necessary response to the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down the district's 32-year-old ban on possessing handguns in the home. It is nothing of the sort. The City Council has already passed temporary changes to comply with the ruling and is working on permanent revisions.
This extreme bill goes way beyond what the high court required. Among other things, it would repeal a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and eliminate firearm registration requirements, even for such things as sniper rifles and small, easily concealed semiautomatic handguns. Under the lunatic logic of this bill, made to order for the gun lobby, such rifles could be toted around on the street fully loaded.
Sojourners has a long history in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in D.C., and many of our staff and their families live in the area in addition to working here. For many years we ran a neighborhood center and saw the results of gun violence in the lives of children who attended programs at the center.
So while we agree that the District of Columbia must adhere to the Supreme Court decision on handgun ownership, Congress should listen to residents, local businesses, and organizations and their need for safe streets, schools, and homes, and vote against HR 6691.
Elizabeth Denlinger is deputy director for policy and organizing at Sojourners.