House Set to Deliver Another Plum to the NRA

House Set to Deliver Another Plum to the NRA

With a $60 million nudge from the gun lobby, the House is about to relax gun laws -- again.

These are challenging times in Washington. The federal government is careening toward a shutdown as House and Senate Republicans haggle over a tax “reform” bill that would enrich the wealthy but that most Americans don’t like. Lawmakers in both parties are nervously watching the newspapers and cable news, bracing for more revelations of sexual harassment in their ranks and hidden payments to hush it up.

On top of all that, the country looks perilously close to war and/or a new round of terrorist attacks. North Korea has demonstrated that its missiles can strike anyplace in the U.S.; Palestinians are promising “three days of rage” to answer President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

So what is the House of Representatives doing today? Kowtowing to the gun lobby, of course.

The House is poised deliver a dividend on the NRA’s $60 million investment in electing and lobbying its members. HR 38, which almost certainly will pass this afternoon, is a long-sought NRA bill that would allow Americans who hold “concealed carry” gun permits to carry their weapons across state lines and keep them hidden, regardless of any state law or local ordinance to the contrary.

The bill emerged from the House Rules Committee on Tuesday night on a party line vote and is likely to pass in the same way.

“This not about good policy… This is about money. This is about the power of the NRA and quite frankly, this is another reason why we ought to be talking about campaign finance reform,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-MA, told the Rules Committee on Tuesday.

The numbers back McGovern up. In last year’s campaigns, the NRA’s political action arm put more than $54 million into “independent expenditure” campaigns. All but about $2,500 of that was spent to help elect Republican candidates or defeat Democrats. The NRA contributed another $1.1 million directly to candidates; all but about $10,000 of that went to Republicans. To top all that off, the organization has spent another $4 million-plus this year on lobbying, about $1 million more than in 2016.

“The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” would require state and local police and courts to give gun permits issued out-of-state the same recognition they give to driver’s licenses. So, a resident of Nevada, where permits are legally available to anyone over 21 who hasn’t been convicted of a felony, will be able to carry hidden firearms while visiting states like Illinois or cities like New York, where residents are subject to much tougher concealed carry restrictions.

I cite the Nevada example because the bill is moving toward passage just a few weeks after the Las Vegas massacre in which Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, NV, took advantage of his state’s easygoing approach to concealed carry to obtain and transport more than 40 guns of various sizes and calibers, some of which he used to kill 58 people and injure 500 others at a country music concert.

Having joined in offering the customary “thoughts and prayers” after Paddock’s rampage, the NRA now has no problem in easing the way for would-be murderers in any state with concealed carry permits to export their violence nationwide.

And with millions of dollars worth of encouragement from the NRA, House Republicans, who customarily salute at the mere mention of “state’s rights” are set to obliterate every state’s right to decide when out-of-staters can walk down their streets while concealing guns.