The District of Columbia’s non-voting delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, called Republican presidential candidate [crscore]Rand Paul[/crscore] “shameless” Friday for introducing legislation to relax the city’s strict gun laws.
Norton says Paul’s bill is part of a trend by Republican presidential candidates to try and win political points by interfering with local D.C. laws.
“The opportunism of now taking a cheap shot at a local jurisdiction, which cannot easily fight back, is shamelessly and patently aimed at boosting his languishing presidential campaign,” Norton says. “When a member repeatedly contradicts his self-professed principles of local control over local affairs, on which he has stood upon his entire life, no one will see him as presidential.”
Paul’s bill will require D.C. to acknowledge concealed carry permits issued by other states and begin issuing concealed carry permits to residents.
It will also eliminate existing local laws that severely restrict the ability to own firearms and ammunition and allow for the carrying of firearms on some federal property not considered to be a “sensitive area.”
“For too long the Americans who live in and visit their nation’s capital have been prevented from defending themselves and their loved ones. No longer should our citizens have to choose between safety or visiting Washington, D.C.,” Paul said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Paul did not immediately return a request for a response to Norton’s comments.
District officials and federal lawyers are engaged in an ongoing court battle over D.C.’s gun ban after a federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional last year. (RELATED: More Than Half Of DC Residents Don’t Believe In This Part Of The Constitution)
In response to the ruling, D.C. council passed a slightly less restrictive concealed carry law that requires any D.C. resident seeking to carry a gun to prove “good reason to fear injury to his or her person” in order to obtain a permit. In May, a federal judge ruled that law unconstitutional as well.
U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. blocked the law after gun rights advocates brought a lawsuit against the city claiming the law makes it almost impossible for residents to obtain the permit to carry a gun. They say the law sometimes takes months to complete.
“For all intents and purposes, this requirement makes it impossible for the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in public for self-defense, thereby depriving them of their Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Scullin wrote in his 23-page opinion.
Last year, Paul supported the rights of D.C. residents to pass a referendum legalizing the possession of marijuana, saying he doesn’t believe the federal government should be involved.
Norton calls the move by Paul a “classic case of principled libertarianism.”
This time, though, Norton calls Paul a hypocrite for his attempt to regulate District affairs.
“Senator Rand Paul should right now decide whether he is a true libertarian or not,” Norton says.
In 2010, Norton became involved in a bribery scandal after she left a voicemail on a lobbyist’s phone overtly asking for donations to her campaign.
In the Norton voicemail, she says she notices the lobbyist gave to other lawmakers and is “surprised” the lobbyist hasn’t yet given money to her.
“I’m simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution,” Norton says on the tape. “As the senior member of the, um, committee and a sub-committee chair, we have obligations to raise, uh, funds.”
Norton goes on to say, “I was frankly surprised to see that we don’t have a record so far as I can tell of your having given to me despite my long and deep work. In fact, it’s been my major work on the committee and subcommittee has been essentially in your sector.”
Norton never denied asking for the money on the voicemail, but instead claims what she was doing was completely legal and above board.
“Norton is a longtime supporter of public financing of campaigns, but barring that, candidates from all parties regularly raise funds in calls by first identifying who they are and what they have done. The call was made from campaign headquarters. Her request fully complied with legal and ethical requirements,” her campaign said in a statement.
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