Friday, July 24, 2009
Well, there was good news and bad news this week.
The good news is that a majority of the U.S. Senate (58 members) voted for an amendment to allow citizens who are already authorized to carry firearms concealed to do so when they travel out of state.
The bad news is that the Senate still fell two votes short of the 60 votes needed to enact the amendment, which was sponsored by Republican Senators John Thune (SD) and David Vitter (LA). A prior Unanimous Consent agreement allowed the amendment to be offered in the first place, but as such, required that the legislation garner 60 votes (rather than a simple majority) in order to pass.
The Thune-Vitter amendment was hotly debated on the Senate floor Wednesday. Senator Thune pointed out that, while 48 states have some form of concealed carry law, his measure would simply "extend that constitutional right across State lines," recognizing that the right to bear arms and defend oneself "does not end at State borders or State lines."
One of the more comical arguments made by some Democrat Senators -- Chuck Schumer (NY), Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) -- is that this provision would compromise "states rights."
Of course, these Senators have shown they care little about "states rights," as evidenced by federal gun control laws that bear their names: the ban on semi-automatic firearms (the so-called Feinstein assault weapons ban) and the lifetime gun ban on people who engage in pushing-and-shoving incidents in the home (the Lautenberg misdemeanor gun ban).
And where was their adherence to states rights when they voted for the Brady bill, the Gun Free School Zones Ban and the Veterans Disarmament Act?
Republican Senator Tom Coburn (OK) pointed out their hypocrisy when he said:
"We had a vote in terms of honoring States rights in terms of the national park bill on guns. Twenty-nine of my colleagues, thirteen of whom now are 'defending States rights,' stepped all over States rights with their vote against the Coburn amendment when it came to allowing people to have supreme their State law in terms of national parks."
Senator Thune noted that his provision would protect the rights of states by not applying any national standards. Rather, the text simply requires states to acknowledge the concealed carry permits from other states.
In fact, the language of the text specifically states that nothing in the amendment "shall be construed to affect the permitting process for an individual... or preempt any provision of State law with respect to the issuance of licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms."
Article IV of the U.S. Constitution allows for reciprocity-style legislation by the Congress. The Article allows Congress to enforce "full faith and credit" across the country, so that each state respects the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of every other state.
Click here to see how your Senators voted
Gun owners should take special notice of Republican Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and former-Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter (PA) -- both of whom voted against concealed carry. Had they voted pro-gun, the Thune-Vitter amendment would have passed.