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An effort to allow gun owners from other states to carry concealed weapons in the District of Columbia was foiled last week in a surprise victory for D.C. statehood advocates.
But they warn that this battle is far from over, as pro-gun Republicans might try to overturn D.C.'s gun ban in other legislative arenas.
On Thursday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) offered an amendment to a bill being considered by the House Judiciary Committee. The overall measure would allow people licensed to carry concealed guns to bring those firearms into other states that permit individuals to do so.
But Gohmert's amendment would have made it so state-licensed gun owners could also bring concealed weapons into D.C., even though the District has no "concealed carry" laws.
"The District of Columbia violated constitutional rights of citizens to keep and bear arms," Gohmert said, adding that in adopting his amendment, "we will do a great service here."
But all of the other Republicans joined Democrats on the committee in voting against the amendment, surprising D.C. statehood activists who were all but sure it would be adopted.
"We're pleasantly surprised," said Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, "but we're still scratching our heads a bit to figure out what happened."
Gohmert told Roll Call that Republican leadership had instructed its party members not to vote for amendments that could compromise consideration and passage on the House floor.
"Most of my colleagues would probably have gone along with it under other circumstances," Gohmert said, adding that the National Rifle Association had also said it would only support "a clean bill."
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) acknowledged that his reasons for voting against Gohmert's amendment were, in part, out of concern for the legislation's future.
"It would have given critics a better chance to shoot the legislation down," Franks said.
But other panel Republicans said their votes came down to concerns that the amendment was either an overreach or an underreach, given the scope of the underlying bill.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee overseeing D.C. affairs, voted "present."
He explained that his vote reflected a feeling that he supported the general concept of Gohmert's proposal but that this bill was not its appropriate vehicle: It would not give D.C. residents the right to carry concealed guns, only those with permits issued by other states.