Mayor Gray against DC bill that would take away gun from people - KMSP-TV

Mayor Gray against DC bill that would take away gun from people with temporary restraining order

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The D.C. Council and the mayor are at odds over a proposed law that would take guns away from people who have a temporary restraining order against them.

D.C. already has the strictest gun control laws in the country. But the city council's latest proposal is being blocked from the least expected person: Mayor Vincent Gray.

“I can't approve it in its current form,” he said. “That's without question.”

It is already against federal law to have a gun if there is a permanent restraining order against you.

Councilmember Mary Cheh's bill tackles that timeframe before a registered gun owner has a chance to defend himself against an accusation of violence in court.

Cheh said, "We have limitations -- lots of jurisdictions have lots of limitations -- but weighed against a high degree of danger that a domestic partner could face in that immediate period right after they seek help. It seems to me the balance of equity weighs in favor of getting the gun first -- for a short period of time -- and then sorting it out later."

The mayor lobbed the first attack. Without notice, he sent a letter to Tommy Wells, the chairman of the judiciary committee, saying he opposes Cheh's bill. He made it clear that he just wants to avoid another lawsuit against the city.

"I am a huge proponent of gun control, and I want to make sure we do everything that we can to keep guns away from people because, obviously, of the harm they can do,” said Mayor Gray. "I just can't imagine it getting out of the council at this point without there being some significant changes being made, especially the constitutional issues that are raised around the Second Amendment rights, and the issues around people having due process."

Cheh, a constitutional legal professor, said the mayor is overreacting about a lawsuit.

"Don't be afraid of litigation,” she said. “People sue you all the time.”

Staff for Coucilmember Wells said he will review the bill over the summer recess.

The mayor said he will veto the bill, but Cheh says she won’t back down.

“So, if we get nine people to vote for it, then he can do whatever he wants,” Cheh said. “But we would have, presumably, the strength to override that veto.”

This debate is over a tiny sliver of D.C. residents. Very few people in this city have registered their guns. The city won’t know about most guns held by domestic abusers.

Whether the law is constitutional or not is debatable. Domestic violence prevention advocates point out that there are similar laws in Massachusetts and California.

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