Monday’s New York Times is reporting that GOP members of Congress are showing more interest in gun legislation in the wake of last month’s shooting of their colleague, Steve Scalise, by a far-left registered Democrat who volunteered last year for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign and may have been acting out of pure partisan hatred.
According to the newspaper, “Conservative lawmakers, some of whom were nearly the victims of gun violence, have pressed to loosen gun controls…Most of the legislation has been in development for months, and in some cases, years. But the shooting in Alexandria, Va., which left (Scalise) of Louisiana, the majority whip, grievously injured and three others less seriously wounded, served as motivation for Republicans on both sides of the Capitol to move.
“To Republican advocates, it is now personal,” the article noted.
For Second Amendment activists across the country who have been pushing the notion of a national concealed carry reciprocity law, the fact that it is now “personal” might smack of hypocrisy, or something of an epiphany. Now these Republicans – who seem to forget at times they are in the majority and can therefore pass reciprocity legislation with a friendly White House apparently willing to sign it – may have their resolve tested.
The gun owners who gave Republicans the Capitol Hill majority and the Oval Office expect more than just lip service. That Rep. Scalise unfortunately provided an object lesson appears to have gotten the attention of the GOP majority.
The gun prohibition lobby admitted to the newspaper that they’re eating dust on this subject. Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, acknowledged, “Congress right now is a difficult place for any progressive issue, and ours is no exception.”
Reports that would-be political assassin James Hodgkinson had a list naming six Republican members of Congress seem to have gotten GOP attention, perhaps more than the pleadings of constituents. Now that “their ox has been gored,” will Republicans do what gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb asked President Donald Trump to do: Make the Second Amendment great again?
A proposal by Rep. Barry Loudermilk, who was at the baseball field when Scalise and others were wounded, would allow Congressmen and women licensed to carry in their home states to carry in Washington, D.C. His colleague, Richard Hudson (R-NC), introduced a national reciprocity bill in January, but it languishes in committee, waiting for a hearing.
Congress will break soon for the summer recess. Members will be back in their districts. If they hold “Town Hall” meetings, gun owners may want to be in attendance.
There is opposition, of course, to concealed carry. Anti-gun Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton told the Times, “Washington, D.C., is the last place you want to condone or allow concealed-carry weapons. They are certainly not going to be successful if I have anything to say about it.”
Perhaps she shouldn’t have anything to say about it. Holmes Norton does not have a vote, and her hypocrisy on the issue is glaring. According to the newspaper article, she “objected not only to the attempt to bypass the city’s strict gun laws, but also to the timing of the push.” The Hill carried a piece about how gun rights activists can push back.
“It says everything about my colleagues that they would use the occasion of a tragedy on one of our members to come forward the day after with one of these bills,” Ms. Holmes Norton is quoted.
Exploiting tragedy to press the gun prohibition agenda has never concerned anti-gunners. Indeed, that’s been part of their strategy for years.
And then comes Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), reportedly warming up their bipartisan bill to expand federal background checks to all firearms sales. The newspaper said this bill was “inspired by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.”
Both King and Thompson are shooting blanks and they know it. Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza skipped a background check by murdering his mother and taking her guns. Other mass shooters have passed background checks (Elliot Rodger, Nidal Hasan, James Holmes, Aaron Alexis, Christopher Harper-Mercer, Vester Lee Flanagan – AKA Bryce Williams – and, of course, James Hodgkinson). Even the NY Times has admitted this.
Grassroots gun rights activists figure it is time for their rights and interests to be on equal footing, regardless where they travel in the United States. Most mass shooting victims are average citizens with no public office. But they consider their safety just as important as any office holder.