WASHINGTON — Sen. John Ensign’s chief of staff had just returned to town from Nevada this week when he noticed a slip of paper tucked into his luggage.
John Lopez showed it to his boss. It was a handwritten note signed by a half dozen employees of the Transportation Security Administration thanking Ensign for pushing gun rights in the District of Columbia.
"To Sen. Ensign: Please continue to defend our conservative values with all your vigor, particularly our Second Amendment! Thank you."
The TSA-ers evidently noted Lopez’s business card attached to a piece of checked luggage. Ensign’s office was only too happy to share the note, which was reported first this morning in Politico.
Ensign smiled at the note, his spokesman Tory Mazzola said this morning.
"He appreciates the kind words," Mazzola said. "It has been overlooked that there is a constituency in the district that believes their Second Amendment rights were infringed upon" by district gun laws that were regarded as among the toughest in the nation.
Ensign has been persona non grata with elected officials in the District of Columbia since he sponsored a successful 62-36 amendment to a district voting rights bill in February that would repeal most local gun control rules.
The amendment was seen as a poison bill to deprive the district of a vote in Congress, at the same time it prevented city leaders from regulating firearms. District leaders say the regulations are completely appropriate under the Second Amendment.
The district’s nonvoting House delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton convened a hearing this morning where city officials decried the power that Congress has to oversee the operations of the district.
Peter Nickels, the city’s attorney general, said the Ensign amendment was causing "significant heartburn."
"Guns, gangs and drugs" are the main threats to public safety in the city, Nickels said. The Ensign amendment "takes away the ability of the police force to deal effectively with guns."