WASHINGTON – Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has introduced a bill that would override some local gun-control laws.
The Citizens Self-Defense Act is intended to establish in the legal code the Second Amendment right to bear arms, said Bartlett, a Frederick Republican.
Passage of the act would “put criminals everywhere on notice that the citizens they prey upon can and will be able to use deadly force, if necessary, to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Bartlett said this week in a written statement.
He said gun-control laws take away rights from ordinary citizens while failing to punish criminals.
Bartlett’s proposal has the support of the Gun Owners of America, one of the nation’s largest gun lobbies. A spokesman for the organization, John Velleco, said it would like to see the House Judiciary Committee hold hearings on it. The group has worked to help Bartlett acquire bill cosponsors, he said.
The measure has 19 cosponsors, most of them Republicans.
But not everyone is enthusiastic about it. “This is not what the country needs,” said Gail Hoffman, former legislative director of Handgun Control Inc. and founder of the Hoffman Group, a consulting firm that works on firearms issues.
Hoffman characterized the bill as one in a series of attempts by gun lobbyists to define the Second Amendment “in a way they would like it to be, but was never intended,” by the writers of the Constitution.
The bill lists several instances in which persons defending themselves with firearms were charged with criminal offenses.
In North Carolina in 1990, for example, a man was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after wounding one of four men who broke into his home and assaulted him with a baseball bat, the bill says.
The bill likens the right of citizens to defend themselves to the immunity granted police officers using firearms in the line of duty.
Under the provisions of the bill, those who can legally own guns could use them to defend themselves or their families if they are threatened with physical harm.
It also allows use of a firearm to defend one’s home in the course of a felony.
If someone is prosecuted for using a gun in self-defense, the bill would allow that person to sue the government for damages.
This is the third time Bartlett has introduced the bill. In neither of the two previous terms was the measure voted on by the House of Representatives, said Lisa Lyons Wright, Bartlett’s press secretary. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Committee press secretary Samuel Stratman said he was unaware of any hearings scheduled on it. -30-