From the last Morning Jolt of the week…
This Should Be the Best of Times For Gun Owners. And Yet…
ATLANTA, Ga. – This should be the happiest National Rifle Association Annual Meeting in many years, and it probably will be. Gun owners can celebrate the victory of a president the NRA endorsed, pro-gun majorities in the House and Senate, and Judge Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.
The first NRA convention I attended was in 2010 in Charlotte, and the political talk has always been focused on defense, stopping a powerful foe who would like to restrict or perhaps outright ban private ownership of firearms. But today, Barack Obama is retired. Hillary Clinton is walking in the woods in Chappaqua. Nancy Pelosi is still around, but she’s the minority leader in the House, and Democrats will need a wave in 2018 to make her Speaker again. Gun owners certainly don’t like Chuck Schumer, but he, too, is in the minority. Michael Bloomberg still has his billions for activism, but no longer runs New York City. Eric Holder is back in private practice.
As always, there are plenty of state level fights. Legislative efforts for “constitutional carry” – the right to carry a firearm without a permit, because the U.S. Constitution is the only permit you need – are moving ahead in Alabama, Texas and South Carolina. Wisconsin State Attorney General Brad Schimel says he supports adopting constitutional carry in his state.
But considering GOP control of Washington, one might have expected “concealed-carry reciprocity” – national legislation declaring that if you have a concealed carry permit in one state, is must be recognized by all other states — to have been either featured in President Trump’s 100 days agenda or rapidly approaching passage. The bill has 188 cosponsors in the House, but has been sitting in subcommittee since January.
Justice Gorsuch is a fantastic win for the administration, but there’s still a lot of lower court judicial vacancies to fill: Circuit courts need nominees for 19 vacancies, and district courts are waiting to fill more than 100 vacancies. President Trump has yet to nominate his own director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has only six of the 26 assistant attorney generals and other major support staff he’s supposed to have at the Department of Justice.
Congress did pass, and Trump did sign, a bill that rescinded an Obama administration rule, requiring the Social Security Administration to send the names of anyone who was deemed mentally impaired and uses representative payee to help manage their benefits to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to block the purchase of firearms. The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the Obama rule because “it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent. There is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee to manage one’s Social Security disability benefits and a propensity toward gun violence.”
Still, this should be the golden age for Second Amendment advocates, and by extension, conservatives. (On the Venn Diagram, the two circles representing these groups overlap a lot but not completely.) And yet…