Thursday, November 17, 2011

HR 822 passes in the House!

HR 822, the concealed-carry reciprocity bill that would allow a permit holder to carry in every state that allows concealed carry, passed in the House, with an overwhelming vote of 272 for and 154 against.

Representatives from the handful of states that deny the rights of ordinary people but hand out permits "by discretion" to wealthy and politically connected cronies are predictably soiling themselves, and trying desperately to settle on some meme that makes their opposition look reasonable.

Now we continue the march into the Senate. Based on the yea votes from the last time this bill came through, plus the new commitments we've gotten, it should have enough votes to pass, but the politics are of course more complicated than that, and we can expect a lot of behind-the-scenes arm twisting over this vote.

The Obama administration really, really doesn't want this bill to come to his desk so close to the election, as the President will have no good options. He's put a decent amount of effort into telling people he's totally not anti-gun, and trying to preemptively undermine the NRA's effect on his reelection bid,* so vetoing a major piece of civil rights legislation like this would stand to do his campaign a whole lot more harm than good. We have a robust gun culture that will go to the polls in force against an anti-gun Chicago Democrat, an ever-growing number of American moderates who care about gun rights and an ever-dwindling number of American liberal voters who give a damn about gun control. The electoral math does not favor a veto.

On the other hand, the petulant children who run the political machines in the major liberal strongholds care quite a bit about gun control, in what I'm increasingly convinced is little more than a big "but they won't respect my authori-tah!" temper tantrum. And the President needs them to get their machines working to generate votes for him. Signing a bill that they'll consider a slap in the face won't turn the Bloombergs and the Emanuels into Republican boosters, but it just might make them less likely to help when he needs them.

Very interesting times. I wouldn't bet money on HR 822 passing the Senate, but if it does, it's really win-win for gun rights in this country. If President Obama signs it, we can finally do away with the perplexing (and expensive) web of reciprocity agreements, and put one more nail in the coffin of discriminatory "discretionary" licensing. If he vetoes it, he significantly hurts his chances of reelection, which may actually be better for gun rights in the long run than winning this issue at this time.

[* - Not that this has been difficult, given the NRA's public message. I get that they're reaching for a sound bite when the threat is too complex to express in a sound bite, but "OBAMA GUN BAN COMING" is childishly easy to mock, given that the only directly gun-related bills the President has signed have been pro-gun.]

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