July 14, 2005

TO:
  Members of the U.S. Senate
RE:
  Vote ‘No’ on S. 1082 to Repeal D.C.’s Gun Laws
FROM:
  LWVUS and other organizations

Dear Senator:

We are writing to express our strong opposition to S. 1082, a bill that would strip the District of Columbia’s voters and elected officials of the power to pass gun laws.

The citizens of the District of Columbia should have the power to decide by democratic means whether and how firearms are regulated in the city where they live. DC’s current gun laws were passed almost 30 years ago by an elected city council, and these laws continue to enjoy broad support among business executives, law enforcement officials, health care professionals, civic organizations, and ordinary citizens. When legislation to repeal DC’s gun laws was introduced last year, it generated widespread opposition – and attracted virtually no support – among DC residents.

DC has made great strides in recent years, both in reducing violent crime and in encouraging people to establish businesses, buy homes, and build their lives in the city. The city’s finances are in order (it has an “A” rating from bond analysts), the homicide rate is down (by 55 percent over the past ten years), and commercial as well as residential real estate markets are booming.

The city has many challenges ahead, but its citizens and political leaders are working to build consensus and solve problems like any other municipality in the country – through vigorous debate, hard work, and participation in democratic political institutions. While some members of Congress might have different ideas about what’s good for the city, we believe the choices made by DC citizens and their elected representatives in local government should be entitled to respect.

The debate over S. 1082 is about democracy, not the Second Amendment. By denying the citizens of DC – who have no representation in Congress – the right to decide how best to protect public safety and reduce violent crime, this bill would violate basic American values, and we urge you to reject it.