It's Time To Hold State GOP Lawmakers' Feet To The Fire On Gun Rights

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Over the last week, I’ve hammered Georgia House Speaker David Ralston for killing pro-gun legislation here in Georgia. I’m not about to back off on that, either. While Ralston claims he was just trying to be sensitive in the aftermath of the Atlanta shooting, no one is interested in his excuses. After all, the bill wouldn’t have made anything easier for the killer.

Plus, let’s face it, the other side doesn’t exactly hold up after a mass shooting. Instead, they go into a full-court press and try to cram as much gun control down our throats as possible.

Ralston is demanding we fight with at least one hand tied behind our back.

However, much as I wish it were so, Ralston isn’t the only state Republican holding back pro-gun legislation.

The leader of the Indiana Senate has shot down a House-approved proposal that would have allowed Hoosiers 18 and older to carry handguns in public without being required to obtain a state license.

Senate President Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, said House Bill 1369 will not get a committee hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate prior to Thursday’s deadline, in effect killing the measure for the year — absent some extraordinary legislative maneuvering or deal-making ahead of the General Assembly’s planned April 22 adjournment.

Bray explained on his Facebook page that he agrees with opponents of the measure, including the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, and the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police, among others, the proposal “has some major flaws” and should not become law.

Specifically, Bray said he concurs with the Hoosier Gun Rights organization that the requirement in the legislation for Indiana to create a database of individuals barred from possessing a gun due to a felony or domestic violence conviction, dishonorable military discharge, or history of mental illness is a “poison pill,” since data restrictions and privacy concerns inevitably will prevent such a database from being created.

Bray said eliminating the handgun license without creating the database means Indiana police officers will have no easy way of knowing whether a person they encounter on the street with a gun is legally permitted to be carrying the weapon.

“Law enforcement believes being able to access this information in the middle of the night during a traffic stop is important and thus, so do I,” Bray said.

You know, the privacy concerns are hilarious since such a database already exists. It’s referenced anytime someone purchases a firearm from a licensed gun dealer.

That’s right, the NICS looks at all that same data, so I fail to see why Indiana can’t create a similar database.

Bray doesn’t raise that question, though. Instead, he sides with law enforcement special interest over the people of his state.

Like Ralston, Bray didn’t just magically appear in that particular role. He was elected by his constituents and built up a power base. He worked his way into that particular role over the years. Now, though, it’s time for people like them to step up and act.

Neither of these men nor any of their fellow travelers in other states should be taken at face value ever again when they claim to support the Second Amendment. They don’t. If they did, their recent actions would have been quite different.

They’re political creatures. Their time in the state capitol maybe warped their perceptions. Maybe they’ve always been like this. Who knows? More importantly, who cares?

What matters is that the voters in their districts step up and replace them. People like this need to understand that their status rests not on their actions in the capitol, but with the votes of their constituents. Republican districts demand certain things, and that generally includes Second Amendment rights being respected.

All over the country, Republicans count on Second Amendment supporters to back them simply because they’re Republicans. What is that getting us, anyway? No expansion of gun rights isn’t much of a bargain, really. Sure, it beats losing ground, but we’re not really faced with a binary set of options.

It’s time for people to challenge these state lawmakers in primaries. It’s time these officials come to recognize that they can’t just take a dump on the people of their districts or the people of their states. They need to respond, and that means acting to expand gun rights in these states. They either do that or they find something else to fill their time when the legislature is in session.

Yes, I understand politics. I know there are times when there’s just not anything that can be done. I’m not talking about those who are in anti-gun states where their efforts are pointless–that is, unless they actively side with the anti-gunners, of course. I’m talking about those who actively claim to support our gun rights, then can’t be bothered to put up more than empty words when the rubber meets the road.

There’s really no other option at this point. With the federal government looking to erode our gun rights, our only hope is expanding them at the state level. If lawmakers won’t do that, maybe we should find some that will.