FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kelly Ceballos
April 19, 2010 202-263-1331

D.C. VOTING RIGHTS AND MORE GUNS ON THE STREET "NOT ACCEPTABLE"
League Opposes “Comprehensive Destruction of Gun Safety Laws”

Washington, D.C. - Today, Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and Billie Day, president of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia, released a joint statement concerning the linking of the D.C. Voting Rights Act with amendments overturning gun safety laws that protect District residents:

“As an organization that has supported voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia for more than 50 years, the League of Women Voters believes that destruction of D.C.’s gun safety laws is too high a price to pay for passage of the D.C. Voting Rights Act, which would provide a single voting representative for D.C. in the House of Representatives.

“As a leading proponent of the D.C. Voting Rights Act as it was developed in recent Congresses, the League reaches this conclusion reluctantly and sadly, but firmly.  No one should be under any illusions about how comprehensive and destructive the gun amendments could be if they are adopted as part of final legislation.  They not only wipe out D.C. laws designed to protect lives, they also change federal law to allow purchase of weapons across state lines in Virginia and Maryland. 

“There are two fundamental responsibilities that all elected officials must fulfill: protecting our democratic rights as Americans and protecting our lives and safety.  Asking citizens to sacrifice their safety in order to have representation in Congress is unacceptable.

“The League of Women Voters has long championed full voting rights for D.C. citizens.  The League worked hard for the constitutional amendment providing for full D.C. participation in the election of the President through the Electoral College.  The League also worked throughout the country for many years in the battle for a constitutional amendment to provide full voting rights in both houses of Congress, which was passed by Congress but ultimately blocked in the state ratification process.  And the U.S. and D.C. Leagues supported and have always fought for self-determination and home rule. 

“Our congressional advocates must continue to fight to pass the D.C. House Voting Rights Act and oppose all amendments.  It compromises the integrity of the legislation to include these gun amendments.  The voting rights of American citizens deserve a clean bill in the U.S. Congress.”

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.