The battle wages on in the House of Representatives over Washington, DC’s gun and drug laws. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to a spending bill that, if passed, would make DC’s gun laws largely obsolete. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) introduced the bill, which would prohibit the city from enforcing the current gun laws, meaning no enforcement of requiring registration, banning high-capacity magazines, certain assault weapons, and forbidding residents from carrying guns outside their homes.

Massie’s amendment, which passed by a voice vote, comes after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) failed to push a similar amendment through the Senate last week. Some congressional Republicans have long taken issue with DC’s stern regulations surrounding gun ownership and what many find to be an infringement upon Second Amendment rights. On the other side of the political isle, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton – who represents the District in Congress but who cannot cast a vote on the House floor — argued Massie’s amendment to the spending bill infringes upon the District’s right to govern itself. Rep. Massie responded to Del. Norton’s comments by explaining that Congress is in fact the ultimate legislative authority over DC. DC may have an elected mayor and council, but “Congress has the authority to legislate in this area”.

DC’s gun laws are generally viewed as stringent. Though a 2008 Supreme Court decision struck down the District’s longstanding ban on handgun possession, many restrictions remain. That includes requiring residents to register their handguns every three years, complete a safety course, and be fingerprinted and photographed.

Members of Congress on both sides of the debate frequently cite conflicting studies when arguing for or against gun laws and restrictions. Massie is among those who insist criminals will be able to get their hands on weapons, regardless of the gun laws, and if the criminals armed then law-abiding citizens should be able to protect themselves. Safety advocates, however, question the viability of this approach, particularly in an area that has struggled with violent crime rates. Norton is among those who find it difficult to imagine lax gun laws making DC a safer place to live, work, and visit.

Meanwhile, an amendment introduced last month by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) seeks to block the District from spending any money to decriminalize marijuana possession. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill in March that decriminalized the possession of less than one ounce of pot, and which we have discussed extensively. The bill replaced criminal penalties for simple possession with a $25 fine one of the nation’s lowest. Since Congress failed to pass a resolution blocking the local law, it took effect yesterday. The amendment introduced to the spending bill, according to some, would only succeed in blocking the District of Columbia from issuing the $25 fines.

The amendments must still pass Senate muster and gain the approval of the president, neither of which appears likely, according to political pundits.