Norton Challenges Massie to do Something Quick Now That Only Federal Law Prevents Guns in Capitol

Jul 28, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After Saturday’s federal district court ruling that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) asked whether Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), who sponsored a House-passed amendment to prohibit D.C. from spending its local funds to enforce its local gun laws, would finally seek to repeal the only remaining law – a federal law – that bars guns in the Capitol complex.  Prior to the court’s decision, it was a violation of both D.C. and federal law (40 USC § 5104) to carry a gun in the Capitol complex.  Until Saturday’s decision is stayed, overturned or D.C. regulates carrying guns, only federal law bars carrying guns into the Capitol. 

“Thomas Massie, who abandoned his tea party principles of local control of local affairs when he offered his D.C. gun amendment, has said he wants to ‘restore gun rights anywhere I can,’” Norton said.  “With two people arrested in the last two weeks for bringing guns into the Capitol complex, both of whom were charged under D.C.’s carry law, Representative Massie can no longer hide behind that D.C. law.  The only thing standing between guns and the Capitol now is a federal law.  Will Rep. Massie be consistent and finally try to overturn a law he has legitimate, direct jurisdiction over?”

Norton said that Massie has also not introduced a bill or amendment to overturn or block a separate federal law (18 USC § 930) that bars guns in all federal buildings.  She wondered whether Rep. Massie’s own constituents in Kentucky would not prefer a bill allowing them to bring guns into federal buildings in Kentucky rather than his D.C. amendment, which is unlikely to affect them.  Massie has sponsored one other gun bill or amendment since he entered Congress.  In 2013, Representative Massie introduced his first bill in Congress, the Citizens Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 133), which would repeal the federal law prohibiting the possession or discharge of a gun in a school zone.

While Norton expects the city to appeal Saturday’s decision, she notes that the decision was limited to the carrying of a handgun, and said that the District has the authority to regulate such carrying.  She expects the District to appeal the decision, which goes beyond what the Supreme Court has held.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the constitutionality of three of the District’s four major gun laws – the ban on assault weapons, the ban on large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and the city’s basic registration requirements for handguns.  The appeals court remanded the District’s other registration requirements for further fact-finding, which were subsequently upheld by the district court this May, except one – vision requirements – for which the court found no standing to challenge.