The pro-gun majority in the House moved Wednesday to compel the nation's capital to broaden the rights of its residents to buy and own firearms, including semiautomatic weapons.
Critics, led by the District of Columbia's sole delegate to Congress, decried the action. They said the vote tramples on the District's right to govern itself and could endanger both residents and political dignitaries who often travel across the city.
But the National Rifle Association-backed bill passed easily, 266-152, with supporters saying they were determined to give D.C. residents the same Second Amendment right of self-defense that has been available to other Americans.
Many of those speaking for the bill in debate that went well into the night Tuesday were conservative Democrats from rural districts who strongly support gun rights. Eighty-five Democrats voted for the bill.
"Number one, I'm a pro-gun Democrat," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark. "Number 2, if the government of the District of Columbia can take your guns away from you in our nation's capital, Prescott, Arkansas, and many other small towns across the country could be next."
The legislation is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate in the few remaining weeks of this session, but it served both to give lawmakers a pro-gun vote shortly before the election and to demonstrate the NRA's continuing political clout.