It is absolutely mind-boggling. At a time when public opinion poll after public opinion poll shows Americans even in the gun-happy South are in favor of stronger laws on guns, particularly on background checks, the Republicans in the North Carolina House are setting their sails against the wind, and against common sense.
Theyre now pushing a measure, acting as obedient servants of the gun lobby, to make it possible for people to carry guns onto public university campuses, as long as they lock them in a car. And theyd have it be OK for concealed-carry permit holders to take their guns into restaurants where liquor is sold.
All this within months of the elementary school slayings in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults died at the hands of a gunman who also killed himself. The incident prompted a national outcry, motivated some states to pass stricter gun laws and even created a push for legal action by Congress. The Congressional push was beaten back by pro-gun lobbyists who packed more clout than polls showing roughly 90 percent of Americans favored at least more extensive background checks for gun buyers.
But in North Carolina, Republican lawmakers are ignoring the message from Newtown.
Their proposals for the college campus provision, for example, are based on the zany logic that if more people on the campuses had guns, the campuses would be safer because a crazed gunman (such as the one at Virginia Tech in 2007) could be brought down by an armed visitor.
That campus police have opposed this idea, believing rightly that campuses are safer if people are not carrying guns in their cars, and noting that the weapons might well be stolen by people who shouldnt have them, given that car thefts are the most common, or one of the most common, property crimes. One campus chief, Jack Moorman of N.C. State, even noted that someone on the campus with a concealed carry permit had made threats against President Obama when he visited the campus.
So, Moorman said, some of these individuals who have CCW permits are not people we feel comfortable about carrying a firearm on our campus.
But that kind of common sense isnt going to stop GOP lawmakers from pushing ahead. Listen to college officials? Why would they do that?
A worse idea
But if the armed-on-campus idea is bad, the guns-in-bars one is worse. Perhaps legislators pushing this notion have been watching too many old westerns.
Bars and restaurants where liquor fuels enthusiasm for mischief and occasionally stirs heated disagreements among patrons are not places that need pistol-packers, period.
For the owners of such establishments, the law would be a double-edged sword, no humor intended. Truth be known, many would prefer not to have to deal with this issue and understand that this kind of law might be dangerous. But...if they dont want to permit firearms, theyll have to post signs saying so, in which case pro-gun groups might call for them to be boycotted. It has happened elsewhere.
So lawmakers are going to complicate life for merchants who are trying to make a living.
This effort is a testament to the power of the pro-gun lobby, period. Lawmakers are like frightened kittens in the presence of groups like the National Rifle Association, and it seems will carry any water they are handed, even when the mission goes against common-sense safety and the best interest of the public.