Senator Hatch wants guns back in DC

Citing second amendment concerns and personal safety issues in DC, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is calling again for the repeal of the stringent gun control laws in the District of Columbia.

An article from the Washington Post describes his position (also available in his press release)

Senator Hatch has introduced the DC Personal Protection Act in order to force the District to repeal its laws limiting hand gun ownership, ammunition possession, and the possession or ownership of any other firearms.

DC's law is widely recognized as the most sweeping in the nation, and it is controversially held up as an example of how such laws fail by preventing only law-abiding citizens from having guns. Further, district officials readily admit that a substantial portion of guns confiscated by police are brought in from nearby jurisdictions (Virginia, home of the gun-of-the-month club legislation; and Maryland, in particular).

District officials, including the Mayor and the sole (non-voting) representative of the District (Eleanor Holmes Norton) oppose the action, saying that "The only thing that would cause more murder and mayhem in this city is allowing freer access to guns."

However, her indignation seems to be more fervently aimed at the issue of the District's lack of voting representation in the Senate and House of Representatives, pointing out that the District is being singled out because of its lack of representation. Due to the "special status" of the District, it is a federal district and neither a state nor a portion of a state, therefore all residents in the city are subject to governance by elected officials elected by other states at the national level.

Whether you believe that DC's gun control laws make sense or not, the issue of reasonable representation for the District's residents cannot be put aside in this issue. It's a sticky wicket to be sure, but for any other state, the Senator from Utah would suggest to his friends in the White House and the DoJ that this should be solved by taking the Second Amendment issue to the courts, instead of trying to change local legislation passed by a duly elected local jurisdiction.

Perhaps it is time, once again, to revisit the idea of putting most of DC (except for a much smaller Federal District that includes just the Capitol and its related structures) back into Maryland. They would have to share Senators with the rest of the state and their 570,000 people (down from 638,000 in 1980) would be factored in with Maryland's 5.5 million (up from 4.2 million). Chances are good that the District would end up with their own Congressional Delegate in the next election (most delegates represent between 600,000 and 800,000 voters).

For those curious, the least populous state is Wyoming (with a land area of ~98 thousand square miles, making it the tenth largest state). Rhode Island (smallest physical state at ~1500 square miles) has a population of about double the District of Columbia (which covers a mere 78 square miles).

For those even more curious, in 1846 the Congress returned 32 square miles that were formerly in the District to Virginia, their state of origin, thus leaving only the Maryland carve out.