D.C. delegate slams McCain for gun bill, abandonment of his 'maverick' label

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is calling a new bill introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last week that would loosen her city’s gun laws “desperate.”

The measure would rescind Washington D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons and would loosen criminal penalties for city residents found in possession of an unregistered firearm.

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The bill closely resembles much of the gun-related language that has been attached to the D.C. Voting Rights Act, a long sought measure to give D.C. a representational vote in Congress. On the verge of a House vote last month, the voting rights bill was scraped at the last minute in part because of the Republican-supported gun provisions.

“McCain seems pretty desperate,” said Norton told The Hill. “He’s been pro-gun but he usually has not flaunted himself in the far regions of his own party to bring harm to another jurisdiction.”

McCain is facing one of the Senate's toughest re-election bids this year and recently disavowed the "maverick" label that he embraced in his presidential bid against President Barack Obama. Norton said she wasn't surprised to see McCain's measure, because it compliments his move away from the "maverick" label -- not strictly toting his party's line and remaining open to compromise with Democrats.

“[The pro-gun lobbyists] needed a high-profile Republican and I’m disappointed but not surprised because McCain seems to have abandoned nearly all of his maverick positions that brought him so much providence.”

McCain’s measure would also allow D.C. residents to purchase guns and ammunition in nearby Maryland or Virginia.

Washington D.C. Councilman At-Large Michael Brown was one of the first to denounce the GOP bill earlier this week, saying that the city should push for its own statehood as a way to stop the bill.

“I am thoroughly disappointed that just one week after the DC House Voting Rights Act was tabled, yet again, due to the National Rifle Association-sponsored gun amendment, we are now facing another piece of legislation which seeks to weaken our court-approved gun laws in the District of Columbia and interfere with our right to govern ourselves,” he said in a statement.

“These continued attacks on the sovereignty of the District of Columbia must end and the only way to stop these intrusions is to obtain statehood for the District of Columbia,” he said.