Gun Groups Dispute D.C. Ban; NRA Seeks to Curb ATF

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Months before Utah Senator Orrin Hatch introduced legislation to repeal Washington, D.C.’s 27-year-old handgun ban, two gun rights groups were trying to get the law struck down in U.S. District Court, says the Washington Post. Instead of working together, the Cato Institute and the National Rifle Association have filed separate lawsuits against the gun ban and have disagreed with each other’s legal tactics.

Now Cato is accusing the senator and NRA officials of conspiring to spoil its lawsuit. Essentially, the NRA is saying, ‘If we can’t control the litigation, there won’t be any litigation,’ ” said a Cato staffer.

Adding to the disharmony, the NRA named Attorney General John Ashcroft a defendant in its lawsuit, seeking to challenge what the organization sees as his inconsistency in refusing to argue that the D.C. law is unconstitutional.

One gun control group said the infighting among gun rights groups is unusual. “The Second Amendment has proven to be a double-edged sword for the NRA,” said Matt Nosanchuk of the Violence Policy Center. “You have Ashcroft defending the D.C. gun ban. You have the Cato Institute attacking the NRA. You have NRA suing Ashcroft.”

Meanwhile, the Post reports that a House appropriations subcommittee approved, 31 to 30, an NRA-blessed amendment to next year’s spending bill. The proposal, from Kansas Republican Todd Tiahrt, prohibit the use of federal funds for several activities of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It would prevent the bureau from requiring firearms dealers to conduct a physical inventory, from denying licenses to dealers whose sales fall below a certain level, and from demanding that certain dealers provide documentation for all used guns sold in a specific period.


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