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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Limit on Gun Law Passes; Senate Vote Unlikely

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly yesterday to legalize semiautomatic rifles in the District and repeal its gun registration laws, but the bill's future appeared in doubt as a prominent senator announced she would try to block it.

"If this bill comes to the floor of the United States Senate, I will do everything in my power to stop it," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

The House bill passed 266 to 152, with the support of 85 Democrats. It was the second time in four years that the chamber had voted to overturn most D.C. gun laws. The 2004 measure died in the Senate, and a similar result is likely this time.

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Nonetheless, the latest House action may have already had a tangible effect. The District announced Tuesday that it was further easing its gun restrictions to comply with the historic Supreme Court decision in June tossing out the city's 32-year-old handgun ban. House members said they were not impressed because the city had been so slow to act.

The House debate on the D.C. gun bill began Tuesday night and stretched past midnight, with fiery speeches about the city's crime rate and Second Amendment rights. But legislators from both parties charged that the vote was less about D.C. affairs and more about scoring points with constituents and the National Rifle Association, which had called the bill its top priority. [Mark Godsey]

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