Interfaith letter opposes effort to ‘undermine’ D.C. firearms laws (UPDATED)


More than a dozen Jewish groups, led by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, have signed on to an interfaith letter urging the Senate to oppose any amendment to the D.C. voting rights bill that would "undermine the District’s ability to restrict firearms." Such an amendment, which has not yet been introduced, is likely to contain language repealing the city’s fiream registration requirements and restrict the District’s ability to make its own gun rules, argues the missive. [UPDATE: Sen. John Ensign (D-Nev.) introduced an amendment on Wednesday that would repeal all of the District’s gun laws enacated the Supreme Court threw out the capital’s ban on handgun ownership last year.) Here’s the full letter, with the full list of signatories at the bottom:

Dear Senator,
As groups inspired by religious values and ethical principles, we urge you in the strongest terms to oppose any amendment to S. 160, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 that would undermine the District’s ability to regulate firearms. Though proponents of such legislation claim it would restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia, in actuality it prevents the 600,000 District of Columbia residents from enacting comprehensive, constitutional common-sense regulations to reduce gun violence and ensure their community’s safety.

This legislation would go far beyond what is required of the District of Columbia to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case DC v Heller. The bill would drastically erode several regulations that were deemed both constitutional and reasonable by the Heller ruling. Previous incarnations of this legislation would have completely repealed the District’s firearm registration requirements; allowed DC residents to travel to Maryland and Virginia to purchase handguns despite longstanding federal law that helps prevent gun trafficking; and legalized military-style assault weapons, whose destructive power goes far beyond what could possibly be necessary for self-defense or sport.

While we fully acknowledge that the DC law needs to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent Heller decision, we believe duly-elected District officials should have a fair and reasonable opportunity to develop and implement new locally specific regulations. It would be unconscionable of the Senate to approve such an amendment and impose its will on the residents of the District of Columbia. This is especially true in the context of S. 160, a bill which attempts to give the residents of the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress to register local concerns and defend their prerogatives. Rather than upholding Second Amendment liberties, such an amendment would restrict local governance, effectively limiting the freedoms of District residents. We find this violation of “home rule” to be deeply disturbing.

As faith inspired organizations, we must actively pursue a world free from bloodshed. No amendment that would prevent the District of Columbia from lawfully regulating dangerous weapons should be accepted to the S.160. We urge you to help keep Washington, DC, residents safe, and to respect their right to self-government

American Jewish Committee
Anti-Defamation League
ASHA for Women
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
Church of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office
FaithTrust Institute
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hadassah the Women’s Zionist Organization of America
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Women International
Jews United for Justice
Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office
Methodist Federation for Social Action
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepard
National Alliance of Faith and Justice
National Council of Jewish Women
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office
Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s League of Conservative Judaism
Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring

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