Two weeks after Congress allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire, the House of Representatives voted yesterday to repeal Washington, D.C.’s 27-year-old ban on certain firearms, reports the New York Times. The 250-to-171 vote came over the objections of Mayor Anthony Williams and other district officials, including Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to Congress from the District of Columbia, who called the measure “sheer lunacy” and described it as an exercise in election-year symbolism.
With the elections approaching, House Republican leaders have scheduled votes on controversial social issues that they hope will force Democrats into a difficult position at the polls, particularly in areas where support for gun rights is strong. On Thursday, lawmakers are expected to take up a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage; last week, they passed a bill that would prohibit the federal courts from hearing challenges to the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Yesterday’s measure would permit Washington residents to keep loaded firearms in homes and businesses, to own semiautomatic assault weapons not prohibited by federal law, and would end the ban on private handgun ownership and the city’s gun registration program. Backers, including the National Rifle Association, hailed the vote as a significant victory for gun-owner rights.