He's particularly outraged by how lawmakers are going about it: by attaching an amendment to a bill that would grant the city a long-awaited vote in Congress.
“This is absolute insanity. How in the world can you justify this?” Barnes asked. “People are getting murdered in the streets here.”
House Democratic leaders recently scrapped plans to consider the voting rights legislation this summer, after acknowledging their ranks were split on the gun measure and that D.C. leaders were unwilling to compromise. It's not clear when the bill will be revived, and advocates worry the issue could linger indefinitely.
The measure would negate the city's tough gun registration requirements and overturn its ban on rapid-fire semiautomatic weapons.
Residents say the amendment puts the city in a bind: Winning the vote means forfeiting the right to set tough firearms policies in a city that had 186 homicides last year, while halting the bill jeopardizes a right they believe is 200 years overdue.
“To go ahead now would be to walk straight into the middle of a fire,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city's nonvoting member of Congress.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he proposed the gun measure because the city hasn't gone far enough to comply with the Supreme Court, which last year struck down Washington's 32-year-old ban on handguns and affirmed homeowners' rights to keep guns for self-defense. Read more