Advocates of universal recognition of state concealed weapon permits failed to get a supermajority in the Senate yesterday. But what’s more interesting is that some opponents of the measure suddenly became advocates of localism and states’ rights. As Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who carried a concealed weapon back in the 1970s, but yesterday led the charge against the measure, insisted:
Concealed-weapons laws that work in rural states may not be suitable in urban areas.
What’s good for Iowa or Alaska may not be good for California or New York.
Precisely—well said, Senator. But how about some respect for this principle of federalism and localism in other areas of public policy?
Support among the GOP was nearly universal for what Democrat Feinstein—apparently a new convert to a robust federalism—deemed the anti-states’ rights position. Even Fox News’ Glenn Beck politely challenged the sponsor of the measure, Senator John Thune (R-SD), on Thune’s claim that broadly interpreted Second Amendment protections were intended to apply to the laws of state and local governments. This issue may soon be decided in the next term of the Supreme Court.
Also notable was how this vote broke along regional divisions. Senators from the south, tornado alley, and most of the southwest are solidly in favor of less gun control, while the west coasters are most opposed to the lifting of restrictions. Here’s a compromise: perhaps the states in the permit-friendly areas ought to enter into agreements recognizing each other’s concealed weapon licenses. This would allow states sympathetic to gun rights to create a large zone unimpeded by what they consider more burdensome restrictions, while leaving the Feds and other hostile states out of it—and is a better option than all parties taking a roll of the dice on a closely divided Supreme Court.