Measure to Loosen Restrictions on Concealed Weapons Fails in Senate


The Senate today narrowly defeated an unrelated amendment inside the annual defense authorization bill that would have allowed gun owners to use concealed carry permits from one state in any other state that allowed concealed weapons (without obtaining a separate permit):

A group comprising mostly Republicans, along with some influential Democrats, had tried to attach the gun amendment to the annual defense authorization bill, a must-pass piece of legislation. But the provision got only 58 votes, two short of the 6o votes needed for passage under Senate rules.

Two Republicans, Senators Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and George V. Voinovich of Ohio, joined with 37 Democrats to reject the amendment, which was bitterly opposed by a number of big-city mayors, including Michael R. Bloomberg of New York. “Lives have been saved with the defeat of this amendment,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, a leading opponent of the amendment, said in a statement. “The passage of this amendment would have done more to threaten the safety of New Yorkers than anything since the repeal of the assault weapons ban.”

Even some gun enthusiasts, like New York’s Kristen Gillibrand, voted against the provision because it infringed on states’ rights, in that many states have stricter criteria for granting concealed weapon permits than others:

Big-city mayors, such as New York’s Michael Bloomberg, led a furious lobbying effort to try to derail the amendment, along with gun-victims groups, such as the families of students killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech University. Bloomberg, in a letter to Reid, noted that at least 31 states prohibit alcohol abusers from obtaining concealed-carry permits; at least 35 states bar people convicted of certain misdemeanors from becoming gun owners; and at least 31 states require people to complete gun-safety programs before securing a weapons permit.

In a rare instance in which they trumpeted states’ rights, Democrats noted that 36 states have specific laws regarding these gun permits and include specific lists of which states’ permits they will recognize. “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,” Durbin, the majority whip, said.

Glenn Thrush counters the “personal protection” argument with New York City’s “don’t mess with success” argument (emphasis in original):

South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune was making the case for his amendment allowing licensed gun owners to ship concealed weapons across state lines when things got a little personal with Brady Bill crusader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

At that point Schumer raised the possibility that under the Thune provision a gunrunner could buy “20,30, 50 guns concealed ina backpack, in a suitcase and bring them and sell them on the streets of the South Bronx or central Brooklyn, bring them to Central Park or Queens and our local police would have their hands tied.”

Thune, whose state’s population is roughly 10 percent of Gotham’s, shot back: “I say to my colleague from New York that if someone who has a concealed carry permit… in the State of South Dakota that goes to New York and is in Central Park — Central Park is a much safer place.”

Whatever one’s view of the failed Thune amendment, Central Park is already a much, much safer place than it used to be — and mostly without the assistance of armed posses from Sioux Falls.

Millions of people use the park each year — but there hasn’t been a murder there in more than two years.

Moreover, the overall level of serious crime has dropped in the park by 74 percent since 1990, thanks to targeted policing and clean-up efforts, according to NYPD stats. There were a grand total of 40 major offenses (most of them robbery and grand larceny, with one rape) in 2008 compared to more than 150 such crimes in 1990.

Eric Kleefeld Has the roll call vote.

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