There is no question that I love liberty, so much so that I have stolen my home state’s motto of “Live Free or Die” and taken it as my own personal mantra. There’s a catch though. With a reverence for liberty must also come a respect for the laws that govern us – even though we might not always agree with them. (For example, I’m not to keen on Virginia’s law making fornication a Class 4 misdemeanor – students living in Pentagon City be warned).
Likewise, the last time I checked the Constitution it declared that Congress shall have supreme authority over the District of Columbia. In a recent Hatchet column, “Ballots and Bullets” (April 9, p. 4), Claire Autruong argued against “allowing Congress to continue to tread on us.” Sorry, but they can.
I get the “No Taxation without Representation” argument, I really do, and it’s why I keep my one voting domicile in New Hampshire. There is no incentive for me or anyone else to register to vote in the District. It doesn’t count. My one vote count has more weight 400 miles away in the hinterlands of New England. New Hampshire has more per capita representation of any state and I still don’t like to pay taxes. So I agree that the District of Columbia should be given a voice in Congress so that its citizens do not continue to be disenfranchised. Not only are D.C. residents being disenfranchised but the University too has no member of Congress to turn to for grant support and the like.
Even if D.C. is granted voting members in Congress, it is still not a state and it does not negate Congress’s supreme authority over the District. Sen. John Ensign and his esteemed congressional colleagues have a right to legislate on any matter they choose fit in regards to the District of Columbia. The District’s home-rule government (its mayor and City Council) and even the University’s own charter are granted by the graces of Congress.
I will admit that it does pain me to say that D.C. cannot completely control itself, but my constitutional conscious weighs heavier. The District cannot simply do as it pleases. There is no question that Congress is ultimately in charge of city we all live in and some of us vote in.
My conscious is also assuaged toward congressional rule because of the obstinacy of District’s government. It wants liberty yet it does its damnedest to take away Supreme Court-affirmed, constitutionally guaranteed firearms rights. If the University Police Department is going to be armed with sidearms, I want to exercise my right to pack my Sig Sauer as I do everywhere else in the country – but that’s a different debate.
To say that firearm rights are not linked to voting rights in the District of Columbia is rather na’ve. Yes, they are two different issues but they both are based on the idea of liberty. If the District cannot play by the rules, then it should not be rewarded with a voting congressional delegation. The District of Columbia has acted with an undue sense of entitlement and a disregard for everyone else. In the immortal words of Margaret Thatcher, “No, no, no.”
In a city filled with big egos, the District’s government should not have the biggest one. It has to accept the fact that, until there is a constitutional amendment, it is subject to the supreme authority of Congress. If the District wants the liberty to have votes in the Congress that it hosts, then it should accept the fact that owning a usable firearm is also a liberty that should not continue to be abridged. I might even consider changing my legal residency if my vote would count and I could defend my homestead and myself with force.
The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.
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