Politics
4:53 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

D.C. Lawmaker Challenges Ky. Congressman Thomas Massie to End Gun Prohibition on Capitol Hill

A fellow member of Congress challenged Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie on Tuesday to propose legislation allow firearms on Capitol Hill.

Last week, Congressman Massie, whose district spans Ashland to east Louisville, targeted Washington, D.C.'s gun laws, introducing an amendment to the 2015 D.C. Appropriations Bill to block the city from enforcing its firearm restrictions.

Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky.,
Credit U.S. Congress

"Strict gun control laws do nothing but prevent good people from being able to protect themselves and their families in the event of a robbery, home invasion, or other crime," Massie said in a released statement at the time.

The measure sailed through the GOP-controlled House over objections of D.C. leaders, including its mayor and police chief.

Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District in Congress, told WFPL Tuesday that if Massie were serious about expanding the Second Amendment, he should also seek to allow firearms in D.C. and Kentucky federal buildings.

"This is a man who would want you to be able to carry an assault weapon openly in the nation’s Capitol," she said in a telephone interview. "Does he understand where he is? This is where dignitaries, cabinet officials, and people from around the world with 20 million visitors a year frequent our public places. This isn’t a rural area of Kentucky."

Norton’s challenge comes after reports surfaced last Friday that a congressional staffer was arrested for bringing a gun into the Capitol complex. 

Under federal law individuals are forbidden to bring a firearm into a government facility.

As a freshman lawmaker Massie, has made tearing down gun laws a priority. The congressman's first bill in January 2013 was to repeal the federal ban on guns in school zones.

When the House approved its own appropriations bill in May, however, Massie did not file any amendments to block Capitol Police from using its funds to enforce that federal law.

Massie did not respond to WFPL’s question on whether he plans to propose similar legislation for federal buildings.

In a released statement, however, he suggested gun control laws backed by Democrats are unfair to minorities in major metropolitan areas.

“Democrats often complain that requiring people to provide a photo ID to vote disproportionately disenfranchises minorities from their right to vote, yet many of them are comfortable disenfranchising minorities from the right to keep and bear arms because the District of Columbia has gun laws that require invasive fingerprinting, photographing and registering—which if what they say is true about voting is double true for D.C.’s gun laws.”

Norton has also tangled with another libertarian-leaning lawmaker from Kentucky—Senator Rand Paul—who took aim at the city’s gun laws earlier this month. At the time, Norton argued such a step could hurt Paul's outreach to voters in predominately African-American areas like D.C.

Norton said lawmakers like Paul and Massie don't understand urban issues and are trying to score political points with the gun lobby at the expense of D.C. residents while betraying their own libertarian values.

"Massie comes from a cattle farm in Kentucky," said Norton. "This happens to be a big city in the east where there’s a lot of gun violence and tragedy."

"What I don’t understand is why they don’t adhere to their own Tea Party principles. They decry the big foot of the federal government on local matters, and here they defy their own Tea Party principles and try to impose the view of the federal government."

The Washington Post reports have said Senate Democrats will likely move to strike out Massie’s language targeting D.C. guns laws from the appropriations bill.

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