Norton with Kerry at Assault Weapons Press Conference Says House Will Schedule Vote to Repeal All DC Gun Laws
For more information contact: James Jones, Communications Director
202.462.6000 x12 office / 202.557.4864 mobile / firstname.lastname@example.org
September 13, 2004
Washington, DC - At a press conference on the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban with Senator John Kerry today, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) revealed that the House soon will schedule a vote to repeal all of D.C.'s gun laws and that the bill has enough cosponsors to pass. However, she said that she believes the bill has a decent chance of failing in the Senate. Norton, who twice has saved D.C.'s gun laws from repeal this year, said that in a year that will be remembered for the large number of children killed here by guns, "we in the District can only be outraged that the House would twice expose our children to risk death by gunshot, first by failing to reauthorize the assault weapons ban and then by repealing all of the city's gun laws."
The full text of Norton's statement follows:
I thank Senator Kerry for leading the national fight to eliminate military style assault weapons from our country, to authorize the COPS bill, and to assure a genuine national approach for fighting crime and the risk of terrorism in our streets. Particularly, in the absence of Presidential leadership, the more than 70 per cent of Americans who support an assault weapons ban reauthorization will be grateful for your leadership.
Today, Senator Kerry is at the right place and at the right time. The residents of this city and region, in particular, thank you as we remember the 10 residents killed and 3 injured almost two years ago by two snipers using a Bushmaster knock off assault weapon. Perhaps, D.C. residents are the most grateful of all for the courage of your leadership. After twice this year beating back congressional attempts to repeal all of D.C.'s gun laws, I have just learned that the House will shortly schedule an up or down vote to repeal all our local gun safety laws enacted almost 30 years ago. Our city was recently put under an orange alert, complete with checkpoints of every vehicle and the closing of a major street. Yet President Bush, who promised to support an effective assault weapons ban four years ago, would apparently allow the unlawful purchase and use of such weapons even in the nation's capital.
As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am both saddened and offended that the President and the Republican Congress would further endanger the nation's capital by sanctioning the introduction of military style assault weapons even here. I had thought that because the President has declared that protecting Americans from terrorism was his first priority that the last thing he would want would be the sale and use of Uzis and AK 47s in our country today. I believed that President Bush might be moved to act by the school children, federal agents, CIA employees and white collar workers who have been killed by assault weapons. I had even hoped that because the assault weapon death toll included one in every five police officers (1995-02), even the Republican House and Senate might reauthorize the act.
Instead, perversely, I have been informed that the House soon will schedule a vote on a bill to totally repeal all of D.C.'s gun laws. If so, the nation's capital with its 600,000 residents, 20 million tourists annually, and 200,000 federal employees would no longer be among the seven states and the District that at least would have the protection of a local assault weapons ban.
Already with three and a half months to go, 2004 will be the year remembered for 13 children killed by guns, the largest number in years. We know that repeal of our local gun safety laws is likely to expose the District's children disproportionately to death or injury by gunfire because the increase in child killings this summer has come at a time when the District's overall homicide rate is down and the city actually has 150 fewer homicides than 10 years ago.
Twice before this year, I have had to act with little warning to save D.C.'s gun laws from repeal-first after taking two parents of murdered sons to the office of the Senate Majority Leader and recently by working with Rep. Tom Davis and House appropriators to keep the repeal of our gun safety laws off this year's House appropriation bill.
The District is experiencing such a frightening upsurge in guns seized by D.C. police that a strike force from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting the Metropolitan Police Department. What a federal agency is trying to stop with one hand the House let stand with the other. The House D.C. gun law repealer has 227 cosponsors, more than enough to pass. We have a decent chance in the Senate where 60 votes may be necessary for passage. We will work with Senator Kerry to seize this last clear chance to save our local gun safety laws.
At a time when a teenager in America is more likely to be killed by a gun than to die from all diseases combined, we in the District can only be outraged that the House would twice expose our children to risk death by gunshot, first by failing to reauthorize the assault weapon ban and then by repealing all of the city's gun laws. We cannot and will not accept this needless double risk to our children, our residents and others who visit and work here. This is a fight we take on with all we have got. We are fortunate to have Senator Kerry not only on our side, but leading the fight for our lives.
Contact: Doxie A. McCoy