Karoun Demirjian
CQ Politics
July 13, 2009

Gun rights advocates scored a victory Thursday as the House Financial Services Committee adopted an amendment to allow guns in public housing projects.

[efoods]The amendment, by Tom Price , R‑Ga., would bar any housing authority from restricting legal ownership of guns. It was adopted, 38-31, as the committee continued its markup of a housing bill (HR 3045) that the panel is expected to approve next week.

“Seniors and other individuals have the right to protect themselves,” said Joe Baca of California, one of 13 Democrats who voted for the amendment. “Those guns would be registered, and those individuals have a right, in public housing or any other place, to protect themselves.”

While the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not have a specific policy concerning guns in public housing, several local agencies have banned them in an effort to reduce violent crime in housing projects. Major urban centers began to adopt gun bans in the 1990s, and advocates of such steps argue that the bans have improved the safety of public housing.

“There was a time during the ’70s and ’80s when public housing developments were considered killing grounds,” said Emanuel Cleaver II , D-Mo., who grew up in public housing. “It is just foolhardy to place guns in developments of poor people, many of whom are unemployed, and place these guns around children. . . . Why would we try to put guns in the most densely populated areas in the urban core? It’s just unbelievable.”

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