The Ensign amendment

Washington, D.C., has a news media strongly in favor of endless government growth and voters who lean strongly Democratic. So, with Democrats now in control of both Congress and the White House, it wasn’t hard to foresee the resurfacing of the old cry for “a vote in Congress for the District of Columbia.”

Voters in the district have been stripped of the “right” to have a voting representative in Congress, according to sponsors of the so-called Voting Rights Act of 2009, which would give the District a voting representative for the first time.

The problem is that the Constitution makes it clear that votes in Congress shall be allocated only to the “States,” and that the federal district, “not exceeding ten miles square” and created “by cession of particular states” (which turned out to mean Maryland) is not a state.

Because the District was a virtually uninhabited marshland at the time of the nation’s founding, every family now residing in the District of Columbia moved there in the full knowledge they would not be voting for a representative in Congress until they returned to their state of origin.

It’s by no means clear that this situation can be changed without a constitutional amendment.

But in the meantime, Nevada Sen. John Ensign has come up with a politically clever maneuver that appears to have the Democratic majority at least temporarily stymied. He has added to the D.C. Voting Rights Act (the Senate version of the bill) an amendment that would also bar the local District of Columbia City Council from continuing to infringe the Second and 14th amendment rights of D.C. residents to keep and bear arms.

The irony is that — unlike the “right” of the government courtiers and sycophants in D.C. to have their own voting congressman — the right to bear arms is a real, enumerated personal and constitutional right, as recently confirmed by the Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller. Democrats hate this right, yet are wary of voting against it.

“The Ensign amendment, as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has noted, would gut the District’s new gun law entirely, eliminate the city’s firearms registration system, legalize assault weapons and allow D.C. residents to buy guns in Maryland and Virginia without D.C. government oversight,” wails Washington Post columnist Colbert King. “And to further twist the knife in the city’s back, the amendment prohibits the D.C. Council from enacting any gun restrictions.”

In other words, this constitutional right in D.C. would be restored, at least to the level now common in most of the rest of the country.

After the landmark Heller decision struck down Washington’s gun ban as unconstitutional, the cynical City Council went right back and passed another gun control law that is almost as restrictive as the old one.

But FBI statistics show that the District’s crime rate has only increased through the years that District leaders have restricted civilian access to guns, till those rates are now among the highest in the nation. Yet — as John Lott convincingly demonstrates in his book “More Guns, Less Crime” — crime rates drop in precisely those American jurisdictions which restore the right of law-abiding Americans to own and carry concealed handguns for their own defense.

Democrats, faced with the choice of restoring a real constitutional right to their subjects in return for their latest vote-getting boondoggle, now pull up like a horse unwilling to jump the fence.

The part about giving Washingtonians a voting representative would probably be thrown out in court, you see. Not so the part about restoring their gun rights.

Oh, dear.

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