The Senate rejected Thursday evening an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul that would have dismantled the District of Columbia's gun registration laws, some of the most restrictive in the nation.
Paul's amendment, similar to a bill he considered introducing in November, would have required D.C. to issue concealed weapons permits for both residents and non-residents; honor conceal permits issued by other states; grant carry permits by active duty members of the military; allow for firearms to be carried “on public, non-sensitive areas of federal property"; and allow for the guns to be purchased across state lines.
Paul added his amendment
to the Senate's measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It fell six votes short of the required 60-vote threshold on a mostly party-line vote.
"For too long the Americans who live in and visit their nation’s capital have been prevented from defending themselves and their loved ones," Paul said in a statement Thursday evening. "No longer should our citizens have to choose between safety or visiting Washington, D.C."
On the floor, Paul invoked D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier's comments in a "60 Minutes" interview last month that citizens should attempt to "run, hide, or fight" in an active shooter situation.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson issued a statement Thursday night slamming the Paul amendment, calling it "an effort to politicize a human tragedy" in the week of mass shootings in Colorado and California.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., urged senators to vote against the amendment, noting the District should be allowed to dictate its own policies. ""I'm shocked that a libertarian would stand up here and offer this," Boxer said of Paul.
The Senate hasn't voted on an amendment related to D.C. gun laws
since February 2009, when then-Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., added an amendment
to the D.C. House Voting Rights Act. That measure drew several Democratic yes votes, but Thursday's vote drew only one: Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who is also in a tight re-election race, was the only Republican who voted against the amendment.
The District's non-voting representative in Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said in a statement when Paul was considering his bill last month that his proposal was "shamelessly and patently aimed at boosting his languishing presidential campaign."
Paul has taken on D.C.'s gun laws before. He proposed an amendment
to 2014 bipartisan hunting and fishing legislation that would have lifted the District's ban on registering sawed-off shotguns, machine guns and short-barreled rifles and made legal assault rifles and certain other rifles.