As a result of the U.S. Senate’s decision to pass the D.C. Voting Rights Act, the District is now faced with a conundrum: receive voting rights in Congress at the cost of limiting gun regulations ,or lose voting rights and maintain strict control over the local firearms policy.

The D.C. Voting Rights Act, which the Senate passed on Feb. 26, contained an amendment introduced by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), that prompted great opposition from many democratic leaders including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). The amendment, which drew support from the National Rifle Association, would effectively eliminate local control over gun laws, repeal the semiautomatic gun ban and remove many registration requirements according the N.R.A.’s Web site.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Mayor Adrian Fenty expressed support for the current D.C. Votes Act with the new amendment.

“It’s a tough call. Hopefully we won’t have to make the choice,” Fenty said. “I do believe a majority of District residents say give us the vote. Give us the vote, and we hate this gun law, but we’ll find a way to get rid of that, if necessary.”

Fenty’s stance of sacrificing local control over gun laws for a vote in Congress has elicited great uproar from Norton, the city’s nonvoting House delegate. Norton said she believes that Fenty’s support of the Voting Act with the amendment reverses current progress toward the amendment’s removal from the bill. The amendment not only reverses the current gun laws, but also prevents local regulation in the future.

“Perhaps the mayor has not had time to read the bill, but I have repeatedly emphasized orally and in my written statements that the bill usurps entirely all D.C. mayoral and council jurisdiction over D.C. gun legislation in the future and gives the District’s jurisdiction over guns exclusively to the Congress of the United States, where the N.R.A. has had no trouble maintaining a majority,” Norton said in a March 19 press release. “Mayor Fenty apparently spoke of coming back another day to remove the gun provision another day. A reading of the bill will show that there can be no coming back if this amendment is attached.”

any local officials agree with Norton’s sentiment. According to The Washington Post, both Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the D.C. Council’s Public Safety Commission and council Chairman Vincent Gray (D) believe the passing of the bill is worrisome. The D.C. Council has also approved a resolution that opposes the legislation.

The D.C. Votes Act has yet to pass the House but may take the floor before April 4.

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