Republicans around the country, especially those in leadership positions in the House of Representatives, regularly deliver homilies about shrinking the federal government and giving more power back to individual states.
Those heartfelt positions, however, come with an asterisk. Republican leaders in the House may like the idea of state’s rights—but they’re not so keen about local control when states like New York decide that it’s a bad idea for people to carry concealed weapons, because, well, you just never know when a whack job might open fire on a crowded street.
In an astonishing and dangerous bit of pandering to the nation’s gun nuts, House leaders (with the cooperation of 43 misguided Democrats) recently rammed through a bill that would force states with tough gun-control laws to honor concealed weapons permits issued in other states. Give the Republicans credit for candor—they didn’t try to conceal their intentions. They labeled the bill the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.” Not the “Protect Your Spouse and Children Act” or the “Go Ahead, Make My Day Self-Protection Act.”
The candor may be refreshing, but the thinking behind this bit of insanity is not. It’s the same old argument: The Second Amendment guarantees Americans in any mental state to stockpile and carry their favorite weapons of choice. Mayor Bloomberg, one of the nation’s most vocal proponents of gun restrictions, rightly noted that the House approved this bill less than a year after one of its members, Gabrielle Giffords, was gravely wounded in a murderous rampage in Arizona.
While the bill is mind-numbingly stupid, there is a bit of heartening news to report: Several New York Republicans refused to toe the party line. They voted against their leadership and in favor of sanity—an all-too-rare act of political courage. Michael Grimm of Staten Island; Robert Turner, who won Anthony Weiner’s old seat in Brooklyn and Queens; and Long Island’s iconoclastic Peter King sided with most Democrats on this issue.
What a shame that two of their Republican colleagues from New Jersey, Leonard Lance and Rodney Frelinghuysen, couldn’t summon the nerve to defy the GOP’s gun-lovers. Other Republicans from the metropolitan area also voted with their caucus, but Mr. Lance and Mr. Frelinghuysen have sought to distance themselves from their party’s extremists. Both see themselves as prototypical moderate Republicans in the model of former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean. This vote makes them no different from the yahoos who think they have a right to carry and conceal their handguns in places like Midtown Manhattan.
All the more reason to give a pat on the back to Congressmen Grimm, Turner and King. It would have been far easier for them to go along with their party’s agenda. Instead, they put their constituents’ safety—and, let’s remember, the safety of police officers—ahead of partisan politics.
Good for them. Great for us.