McNerney breaks with pack on DC gun control

H.R. 6842, the District of Columbia gun-control repeal bill that Lynn Woolsey was so angry about yesterday, was passed by the House today on a 266-162 vote; the only greater Bay Area members supporting it were Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater.

While seeking office in 2006, McNerney said he favored maintaining and strengthening the current level of enforcement of existing federal restrictions on purchase and possession of guns. Today, a staffer relayed his statement via e-mail:

“As a gun owner, I believe in the 2nd amendment and the right of Americans to own firearms. The Childers amendment complies with the Supreme Court’s decision and brings DC in line with laws in other states. I do believe we need common sense gun laws and that no one needs Uzis with fingerprint proof grips.”

Meanwhile, other Bay Area voices in Congress are decidedly unhappy about the bill.

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“The supporters of this amendment are not representing the people of D.C., they are representing the gun lobby. The nationwide statistics on deaths caused by intentional and accidental gunfire are extreme to begin with, but Washington D.C. is rated as the thirteenth most dangerous city in the country, where the homicide rate is almost double the national average. Are the supporters of this amendment representing the families in the District who have lost their loved ones to gun violence? Or the policemen and women who experience up close the misuse of guns by both kids and adults every day? No. Supporters of this amendment are only supporting the National Rifle Association.

“We’re not living in the 1700s, when governmental police forces were nonexistent and state militias were a constant threat to central government. Supporters of Mr. Childers’ amendment need to pull their heads out of the past and face the present: gun violence is an ugly reality, and we’re not doing the people of the District of Columbia any favors by considering legislation that will endanger lives under the disguise of protecting constitutional rights. The people who make up this country are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and they certainly can’t claim their right to the last two if they lose their lives. That’s what guns do — they kill people.”

And from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“The House bill would repeal D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons, including military-style assault weapons; prohibit D.C. from enacting common sense guns laws, like requiring safe storage of guns even in homes with small children; and make it more difficult for police to trace guns used in crimes.

“How can anyone believe that eliminating such provisions is prudent?

“There is no good reason why anyone needs semi-automatic military assault weapons in an urban city. We should not allow .50 caliber, military sniper rifles near the White House.

“As a former Mayor who saw firsthand what happens when guns fall into the hands of criminals, juveniles, and the mentally ill, I believe that the legislation approved today places the families of the District of Columbia in great jeopardy.

“If this bill comes to the floor of the United States Senate, I will do everything in my power to stop it.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.