Guns are back in the news here in the District.
Florida Republican Sen. Mark Rubio has discovered the nation’s capital. He and Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, want Congress to obliterate D.C.’s still-strict gun laws.
They introduced legislation that blocks the city’s ability to restrict firearm ownership and eliminates its gun registration system. It also would clear the way for easily obtainable concealed carry permits.
In a joint news release, the lawmakers declared, “In order to achieve the American Dream, people need to be able to live in safe communities and be able to protect themselves, their families and their properties from danger.”
The Notebook, being a good citizen, certainly supports the American dream. If that means gun ownership in the nation’s capital, who are we to stand in the way.
On the WAMU Politics Hour Friday, we revived our suggestion that if Congress wants guns, let the city give ’em guns.
We proposed the city acquire a spot of land as close as possible to the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, and another maybe near the White House.
On those sites, the city would open gun marts to rival the largest in the nation anywhere. Attached over the front doors would be large, blazing neon replicas of a handgun and rifle, sparks and smoke blasting out of the barrels. (You folks living in those historic Capitol Hill town houses and worried about destroying the neighborhood would just have to suck it up. We’re talking about the Second Amendment here.)
And to make sure the stores show that they are a friendly place, they would give out thousands of toy guns to tourists en route to the Capitol and White House. We’re sure the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Capitol Police would like that.
And don’t get us started on concealed carry. That would be a given here in town. Anyone with a gun would have full access to all of our federal buildings, houses of worship, restaurants, laundromats, carryouts and drugstores. You never know when you’re going to have to quick-draw a terrorist, criminal or other varmint.
And Sen. Rubio, if he gets his presidential campaign going, can rest assured that a heavily armed nation’s capital has his best interests at heart. If he ever gets to glide through the city in a presidential motorcade, there could be a 21-gun salute waiting for him on every corner.
■ "Unconscionable." The latest assault on the city drew quick condemnations from D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Attorney General Karl Racine. Both said the city has tried to strike a balance between Second Amendment rights and safety in Washington.
“Simply put,” Racine said, “it is unconscionable for members of Congress from other states, acting out of transparent political self-interest, to advocate a wholesale revocation of the clearly articulated expression of the residents on this important issue.”
■ That unfinished Gray investigation. Today brings an end to Ronald Machen’s five years as chief prosecutor in the city. Machen is returning to private practice with a grade of “incomplete” for his long-running investigations into political corruption here.
A half-dozen people have pleaded guilty and await sentencing for their roles in the notorious “shadow campaign” that helped elect Vincent Gray mayor in 2010. But Gray, who has said he did nothing illegal, has been neither charged nor cleared.
It will fall to another Vincent to determine whether Gray faces charges or is allowed to get on with his life. Machen’s principal assistant, Vincent “Vinnie” Cohen Jr., is taking over as acting U.S. attorney for the District, at least until President Obama nominates a replacement for Machen.
Cohen has deep local roots in Washington dating back to his famous and widely respected father, Vincent Cohen Sr. The senior Cohen cut a wide path through legal circles here and mentored thousands of young lawyers.
It likely will be up to Cohen to fish or cut bait on Gray. Cohen has been deeply involved in the prosecution of that shadow campaign. With all of his local bona fides, Cohen will speak with authority whether it’s bad news for Gray or a lifting of the dark cloud that has hung over the former mayor and city for several years.
Either way, many people beyond Gray are anxious to bring this chapter to a close.
■ Don’t Tear It Down. That was the original name of the DC Preservation League, which since 1971 has been saving the building and architectural history of the city. Last week it had its annual fundraising gala at the Manhattan Laundry on Florida Avenue.
The group’s longtime executive director, Rebecca Miller, paused at the big cocktail party to tell us preservation has new life in the city. There’s “been a much bigger appreciation of [restoration] after the recession,” Miller said, with developers looking to preserve rather than build new.
■ A final word. Former D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Floretta McKenzie has died. She was a respected leader of the city schools from 1981 until 1988.
“Dr. Flo was a mentor, a friend and a legend,” current School Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement. “She took me, and so many others, under her wing and into her heart. Over our many meals and conversations, we shared stories, and she shared lessons I hold dearly and turn to often. Rest in peace, my friend, and know your legacy lives on in all of us.”
Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.