Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed, leading the Senate to defeat a national reciprocity measure allowing gun owners with permits to carry their concealed weapons across state lines. Otherwise, I might have had to fight my way to work through crowds of armed, angry Buckeyes just itching to cause trouble in the state they love to hate. As Sen. Chuck Schumer noted, the measure would have incited "the dangerous race to the bottom in our nation's gun laws." And he has been quoted elsewhere as saying there is no doubt the measure's defeat would save lives.
("Defeat" can be a tricky concept. This measure lost by getting 58 votes out of 100, which many people would call a majority. But it needed 60 votes to be able to survive a filibuster.)
Evan Bayh was one of the 20 Democrats who voted for the measure, the fourth time this year he has sided with gun rights advocates. Richard Lugar was one of only two Republicans who voted against it. (And Buckeye George Voinovich was the other.) If I were a cynic, I'd say this issue illustrates pretty clearly which one of them is up for re-election next year and which one isn't.
The funniest part of the vote was how the Democrats, who usually want to nationalize everything from which light bulbs we can use to how much water our toilet flushes consume, were all hot for "states' rights."
. . . the liberal Democrats noted that 36 states have specific laws regarding these gun permits. Some bar conceal-carry permits for alcohol abusers and prohibit misdemeanor criminals from carrying weapons.
"The states already have laws. Under the Thune amendment, those laws could be ignored. So if the Thune amendment becomes law, people who are currently prohibited from carrying concealed guns in those 36 states are free to do so. It is absurd that we are considering this," said Durbin, the majority whip.
They have kind of a point, actually. Some states, as noted, forbid even misdemeanor criminals from having the permits, while others forbid only felons. Ohio requires permit seekers to complete a safety course, and Indiana does not. Why shouldn't states be able to set their own conditions? A federal reciprocity law would trample on states' desires. Or do we like federalism only when it brings the results we desire?
I have to confess I was just kidding about those crazed Buckeyes. They can already bring their concealed weapons to Indiana. Many states already practice one form of reciprocity or another. Indiana's concealed-carry permits, for example, are recognized by about half the other states (Ohio not being one of them), while Indiana recognizes the concealed-carry laws of all the other states. So, if anything, it's the Buckeyes who ought to be relieved this morning that they won't have to fear deranged Hoosiers.
(In case you're planning a cross-country drive, here's a nifty map that shows which states homor which other states' concealed-carry laws.)