A letter to Marco Rubio on his new DC Gun Law bill

(I have mailed a copy of this letter to each of Senator Rubio’s offices)

Dear Senator Rubio,

My name is Chris Haines and I am a resident of Washington, DC. In reality, I am not one of your constituents and you’re under no obligation to read my letter or respond to me; and I certainly won’t be voting for you (or to be fair, for whoever becomes your opponent) in 2022.

That said, as 1) I am a DC resident and don’t have voting representation in either chamber of Congress (and therefore do not have the traditional outlets available to typical US Congressional constituents), 2) Congress is responsible for many DC laws, 3) you and some of your Congressional colleagues insist on foisting unwanted legislation on the residents of the District of Columbia, I feel compelled to write to you and voice my displeasure with one of the bills you recently introduced in the Senate.

Per the Washington Post on January 18th, you have introduced (for the second time) legislation to repeal the District’s gun laws. Plainly spoken, Senator, this is a ridiculous bill and I urge you to withdraw it. I’m sure you’ve heard some reasons why this is true from some of your Congressional colleagues and perhaps even directly from Washington, DC’s Honorable Mayor Muriel Bowser, but I’d like to clarify some of those reasons here:

  1. First and foremost, this bill does nothing to serve the residents of the District of Columbia. We have no interest in allowing more guns on our streets and in our community, but you insist on upending our gun laws despite this fact. Simply put, the residents of DC do not want this restriction lifted so your effort is unwanted and baffling at best. Despite the (untrue) claims of our new President, violent crime in DC is following a nationwide downward trend and is down significantly from last year. We do not need unwanted and more lax gun laws imposed upon us.
  2. This bill also does nothing to serve your constituents. I know this because your constituents don’t live in DC and this bill only affects the District. The residents of your state deserve your attention on their needs and not on DC’s gun laws.
  3. This bill is clearly aimed at improving your bonafides with the NRA. I know this because it does nothing to serve your constituents (who, again, do not live or work or pay taxes in the District of Columbia), but does serve the agenda of the gun lobby.

Senator, don’t mistake this objection for some sort of uninformed claim that you don’t have the right. I’m well-versed on DC law and Congressional oversight over District laws and understand that you and your Congressional colleagues have the latitude to enact this legislation without the consent or input of District residents.

(This in and of itself is absurd, of course. DC has more residents than Wyoming and Vermont and pays more in federal taxes than 6 states. We should absolutely be the 51st state in the United States. In fact, 79% of District residents voted in favor of statehood just this past November. At the very least, we should have voting representation in Congress. But this is a different argument for a different letter. Which you should look forward to soon! But back to the original point.)

In other words, Senator, I don’t expect that you’ll change your mind on this (or in fact, even read my letter). You have the right to propose bills, and given the current Republican majority in both houses of Congress and the new Republican President, the means to pass this bill (as well as a host of others introduced over the past weeks, none of which have the support of DC residents).

I still urge you to reconsider your proposal of this bill. You owe your constituents your focus on issues that concern them and you owe the people of this country focus on issues that affect the nation at large (like, for instance, the fact that the new President is forcing his staff to lie publicly to the media and the American public about easily provable facts and hasn’t released his tax returns and has repeatedly lied about why; or the the fact that his appointee for the Secretary of Education thinks guns should be allowed in schools to protect from bear attacks and doesn’t have the first clue about any of the policies that would be handled by the very department she was picked to lead).

This bill is completely unnecessary for both your actual constituents in Florida as well as those other “constituents” in the District who did not vote for you, but are still subject to your governance and oversight despite that fact. Even bringing it to a vote is a waste of time and effort. We have a capable Mayor and City Council, a very solid police force able to protect and serve our population, and an engaged citizenry interested in the issues affecting our city and in building community with one another. Please allow us the freedom to set and maintain our own gun policy.

Thank you,

Chris Haines

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