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D.C. Still Fighting for It’s Unalienable Rights

March 6, 2009

The Preamble of this nation’s Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..”

These are the words used by our country’s founders to establish it’s right to throw off the despotic abuse of their own liberty, and although unapplied in full equity, those words still stand as some of the most consequential words in American and maybe human history. In those words stands the eternal argument that existance requires respect, and if respect be required so than must be representation. For how can one respect another’s opinion or belief if they are not heard.

Today, the District of Columbia fights this battle anew as members of the Republican Congress have sought to scuttle its right to representation in the form of a draconian Gun Amendment, formed much like the failed Ensign Amendment of 2008. An amendment gravely short sighted, and plainly focused on derailing the progress that D.C. has made towards a voice in Congress. Some of the more assanign provisions of this amendment would be:

1) No gun registration and therefore no way for police to trace guns used in crimes in every big city; 

 2) No regulation of guns, only a bare federal statute, resulting in one of the most permissive gun laws in the nation, making it difficult to protect dignitaries and parades as needed in the post-911 era;

3) No age limit for possession of guns, including military-styled weapons, which could well attract teens in light of the upsurge in juvenile gun violence in urban and rural areas;

4) Permits a person who is voluntarily committed to a mental institution to own a gun immediately upon release without the usual waiting period;

5) Makes a unique exception to anti-trafficking laws for District residents to become the only U.S. citizens able to cross state lines to purchase guns and bring them back from nearby states, facilitating gun-running by criminals between these states and putting national and local safety at risk in the nation’s capital;

6) Permits a “gun show loophole,” which avoids background checks in the nation’s capital, i.e. District of Columbia residents could purchase weapons from private individuals and at gun shows that would be permitted in the nation’s capital without background checks, putting national and local safety and security at risk;

7) No ability of the District to revise its laws for the safety of residents even if serious threats arise.

We need to be real here. There are forces, mainly Right-Wing forces who do not wish to see voting rights given to the District of Columbia. No other reason can be acceptable as a cause for the introduction of such an amendment. No local government, state or city would allow such loose provisions to be used to base its gun laws. Can you imagine the level of uncertainty that would occur in the populace if guns were allowed to be sold without background check? Without taking to account the mental condition of the buyer, even when that condition is deemed clinically insane? Preposterous!

The same founders, who spoke of rights unalienable in the Declaration of Independance, also prefaced that seminal document by saying:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

On November 11, 2008, the voters of this union provided for itself a “new Guard” in the form of President Barack Obama, and wide majorities for Democrats in the House and Senate. We need to ralley around Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and the residence of the District of Columbia, and in so doing, provide the demand required to warrant voting rights for the citizens of our Nations Capitol. As of now, their unalienable rights are being flaunted, and are essentially being predicated on the NRA getting what they’ve always wanted. We can’t allow special interests to have this kind of sway – not now. Not this time.

Keep track of the D.C. Voting Rights fight at Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s web site: http://www.norton.house.gov/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=121

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