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GOP gunslinging in D.C.

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Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison feels sorry for us here in the District of Columbia. She's seen our crime-plagued streets, she feels our pain, and she's decided she has an answer for us. She wants to eliminate the majority of our gun laws.

What inspired the plucky Texan to decide to suddenly stand up for all of us? It probably wasn't the mayor or the police commissioner or the school superintendent, who all announced they oppose her idea. And the decline in the city's homicide rate didn't suggest a drastic need for change.

No, in the end, she says, she introduced the "D.C. Personal Protection Act of 2005," because of her "constitutional responsibility to oversee the District of Columbia," she said at a news conference to announce the legislation.

Apparently those of us living in the nation's capital are being denied our Second Amendment rights and, well, she's just trying to help.

There are more than a few questions about the good senator's beneficence. There's the fact that the courts have decided that laws like the District's, which prohibits handguns, aren't any sort of violation of the Constitution, so we aren't really being denied anything - that's probably why the senator and her friends aren't going to court to have the D.C. rules thrown out. There's the argument that putting more unregistered guns, including semiautomatic weapons, in people's hands is probably not a sound way to increase safety in a densely populated, high-crime municipality.

But perhaps the most confounding part of this proposal is this: why is the Republican Party, the party of states' rights, deciding that in this case the federal government should supersede the will of the people living in the District? When did the GOP suddenly become the party that believes the federal government knows best?

The move from Hutchison - who's mulling a run for governor in Texas, where NRA support would be extremely helpful - is the most ridiculous federal power play since, well, last year when the House actually passed a version of the D.C. Personal Protection Act. The bill died in the Senate when it seemed the votes weren't there.

But this year there's new hope from the Republicans in the upper chamber. The bill already has 20 cosponsors and a spokesman from the senator's office says he believes they will soon have 50.


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