Dear Mr. Miller:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the District of Columbia's response to the recent United States Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue, and you will be pleased to know that you and I are in absolute agreement on this matter.
It has been nearly 70 years since the Supreme Court has ruled on a major case involving the Second Amendment. With its June decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Justices provided a powerful precedent and handed down a victory for all those who have fought to protect our Second Amendment rights. Gun control advocates can no longer deny that the Second Amendment provides individual Americans the right to possess a firearm.
Ronald Reagan once said ".the Constitution does not say Government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution says 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.'" The Constitution was not written to allow Members of Congress or individual state governments to pick and choose which rights they would allow American citizens to possess. Our Founding Fathers set forth in the Constitution a set of rights and liberties that are the guiding principles of our nation and government. All of these rights, without exception, deserve vigorous and vigilant protection.
As you know, following the landmark Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, the District of Columbia passed an emergency measure not subject to Congressional review regarding its handgun laws and regulations. Instead of repealing its handgun ban, it simply created a new exception to the ban that allows an individual to register a pistol for self-defense within their home. Therefore, D.C. residents may not own a handgun for the protection of their business, for sport shooting, or for other lawful purposes. Additionally, the new D.C. law allows a gun to be unlocked only while it is being used during an attack. A person who anticipates an attack must keep their handgun locked until the attack actually begins.
The newly modified District of Columbia firearm regulation is nothing more than a slap in the face to all those who have supported the Heller plaintiffs throughout their court battle. It is important to note that two of the original three plaintiffs in the Heller case have already filed suit against the District of Columbia alleging that the new regulations fail to comply with the recent Supreme Court decision. On September 16, 2008, the District of Columbia City Council again modified its firearms laws in an effort to avoid Congressional action, however, these modifications did not go nearly far enough to assure that District of Columbia residents will be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
In response to the ridiculous measure passed by the District of Columbia, Representative Travis Childers (D-MS) introduced H.R. 6691 the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act." This bill would repeal the District of Columbia's ban on the ownership and possession of semi-automatic pistols. It would also restore the critically important right of self-defense by repealing the requirement that firearms be disassembled and secured with a trigger lock in the home. On September 17, 2008, the House passed the legislative text of H.R. 6691, with my vigorous support, by a 266-152 recorded vote. This legislation must now be considered by the Senate before being sent to the President for his signature.
As an elected official I believe that it is my duty and responsibility to protect individual rights and preserve the intentions of those brave men who crafted our Bill of Rights so many years ago. I pledge to you that so long as I serve in Congress, I will maintain a vigilant and protective watch over our Constitution and the great freedoms that it affords each and every American.
Again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of further assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to call on me.
Member of Congress