http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/opinion/19fri3.html Published: September 18, 2008 The House stampeded past serious public safety concerns and the democratic rights of residents of the District of Columbia on Wednesday to approve a bill that would gut sensible gun controls in the nation’s capital. In all, 85 Democrats joined with a nearly unanimous block of Republican lawmakers to pass the dangerous measure 266 to 152, a reminder that catering to the gun lobby during election season is a bipartisan affliction. The bill was pushed by the National Rifle Association and opposed by the District Police Department. Supporters of the bill argued, disingenuously, that the bill was necessary to bring the district in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down the city’s longstanding ban on possessing handguns in the home. In fact, the City Council has already taken steps to comply, and the bill’s aggressive loosening of the district’s gun rules goes far beyond the court’s Second Amendment ruling. The justices explicitly left room for a broad variety of gun regulations. In response to the court, the district has lifted its ban on semiautomatic guns. The House bill goes a reckless step further to allow large-capacity ammunition clips that give those weapons extraordinary firepower. It also would end the district’s gun registration system, which aids the police in tracking down violent criminals. Other provisions would remove age restrictions on possessing rifles and shotguns and carve an exception to federal anti-trafficking laws by allowing district residents to cross state lines to purchase handguns in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. The bill’s sponsors did bow to bad publicity and eliminated a ridiculous scheme that would have allowed semiautomatic AK-47s and sniper rifles to be carried around the city fully loaded. But the remaining package is harmful enough. It tramples on the district’s right to govern itself and makes it harder for the police to protect streets traveled by local residents, government officials, diplomats and dignitaries. Voters also should remember this vote when their elected representatives piously declare their devotion to curbing the influence of rich lobbyists. Calling it “the height of folly,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, has vowed to block the bill in the Senate. With little time left in the legislative session, we are counting on her to succeed.