McCain, Tester team up to secure gun rights in nation’s capital

Senators introduce bipartisan bill repealing District of Columbia’s gun policies

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., today teamed up to introduce the Second Amendment Enforcement Act—legislation designed to secure gun rights for law-abiding residents of the District of Columbia.

The legislation follows the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that Washington, D.C.’s, decades-old ban on firearms was unconstitutional.

Both McCain and Tester supported the 2008 ruling.  Prior to the Court’s decision, the senators signed a bipartisan friend-of-the-court brief urging the Court to support gun rights.

The City of Washington, D.C., however, still has several rules restricting gun rights for law-abiding citizens.

McCain’s and Tester’s Second Amendment Enforcement Act would:

  • Repeal the District of Columbia’s restrictions on semiautomatic firearms.
  • Repeal the city’s current gun storage law, so that legal firearms in private homes don’t have to be “unloaded and either disassembled or secured.”  The new legislation would also prohibit landlords from banning legal guns from rented homes or offices.
  • Repeal the city’s complicated firearms registration system.
  • Amend federal law to allow residents of the District of Columbia to legally to purchase guns and ammunition from licensed dealers in nearby Maryland and Virginia (there are no traditional gun shops in D.C. city limits).
  • Ensure law-abiding residents the right to transport firearms for lawful purposes, while authorizing D.C.’s City Council to implement regulations governing licensed carry and the prohibition of firearms in sensitive public places. 

If it becomes federal law, the Second Amendment Enforcement Act would trump the District of Columbia’s own gun laws because the entire city is an enclave of the federal government.

“Some may ask why a Senator from Arizona and a Senator from Montana would introduce legislation that impacts the District of Columbia.  It’s simple – we believe that residents across this country should be able to exercise their constitutional right to have access firearms to protect themselves,” McCain said.  “I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this important legislation that will not only restore District residents’ rights, but also ensure that no resident in any state, territory or the District is prevented from exercising his or her Second Amendment right.”

“This legislation sends a clear message: Washington, D.C., isn’t an exception when it comes to law-abiding folks and their Second Amendment rights,” said Tester, who helped write the friend-of-the-court brief in the Heller case.  “I’ll always be on the side of our Constitution, and I’m proud of this bipartisan push to make gun rights in America even stronger.”

The bipartisan Second Amendment Enforcement Act is available online HERE.

The bill now goes to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on which both McCain and Tester serve.