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Arm the Senate!

If I have any overall political philosophy, it is that I am against rampant no-compromise ideology and for pragmatism. For example, I am strongly in favor of protecting second amendment gun rights, but at the same time I am for common sense restrictions on gun ownership and use. Let me make an analogy — I am in strongly in favor of free speech rights, but I have no problem with laws that make libel and slander illegal, or laws that prohibit yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, even though those laws clearly violate people’s right to free speech.

Why can’t some gun advocates figure this out? Why do they scream that any law that restricts the absolute right to own and carry weapons is unconstitutional?

So I really enjoyed this column by E.J. Dionne, which points out the hypocrisy of some politicians:

WASHINGTON — Isn’t it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away, and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation’s Capitol building?

I’ve been studying the deep thoughts of senators who regularly express their undying loyalty to the National Rifle Association and have decided that they should practice what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do nothing to stop violence.

If they believe that, why don’t they live by it?

Why would freedom-loving lawmakers want to hide behind guards and metal detectors? Shouldn’t NRA members be outraged that Second Amendment rights mean nothing in the very seat of our democracy?

Congress seems to think that gun restrictions are for wimps. It voted earlier this year to allow people to bring their weapons into national parks, and pro-gun legislators have pushed for the right to carry in taverns, colleges and workplaces. Shouldn’t Congress set an example in its own workplace?

So why not let Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., pack the weapon of his choice on the Senate floor? Thune is the author of an amendment that would have allowed gun owners who had valid permits to carry concealed weapons into any state, even states with more restrictive gun laws. The amendment got 58 votes last week, two short of the 60 it needed to pass.

Judging by what Thune said in defense of his amendment, he’d clearly feel safer if everyone in the Capitol could carry a gun.

“Law-abiding individuals have the right to self-defense, especially because the Supreme Court has consistently found that police have no constitutional obligation to protect individuals from other individuals,” he said. I guess Thune doesn’t think those guards and the Capitol Police have any obligation to protect him.

He went on: “The benefits of conceal and carry extend to more than just the individuals who actually carry the firearms. Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm just by looking at a potential victim, they are less likely to commit a crime when they fear they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed.”

In other words, keeping guns out of the Capitol makes all our elected officials far less safe. If just a few senators had weapons, the criminals wouldn’t know which ones were armed, and all senators would be safer, right? Isn’t that better than highly intrusive gun control — i.e., keeping people with guns out of the Capitol in the first place?

“Additionally,” Thune said helpfully, “research shows that when unrestricted conceal and carry laws are passed, not only does it benefit those who are armed, but it also benefits others around them such as children.”

This is a fantastic opportunity. Arming all our legislators would make it safer for children, so senators could feel much more secure bringing their kids into the Capitol. This would promote family values and might even reduce the number of highly publicized extramarital affairs.

During the debate, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., quoted a constituent who told him: “When my family and I go out at night, it makes me feel safer just knowing I am able to have my concealed weapon.”

Why shouldn’t Vitter feel equally safe in the Capitol? Why should he have to go out on the streets to carry a gun?

The pro-gun folks love their studies. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., offered this one: “A study for the Department of Justice found 40 percent of felons had not committed certain crimes because they feared the potential victims would be armed.”

That doesn’t tell us much about the other 60 percent, but what the heck? If it’s good enough for Barrasso, let the good senator introduce the amendment to allow concealed carry in the Capitol.

Barrasso already dislikes the District of Columbia’s tough restrictions on weapons. “The gun laws in the district outlaw law-abiding citizens from self-defense,” he complained. So go for it, senator! Make our nation’s Capitol building an island of firearms liberty in a sea of oppression.

Don’t think this column is offered lightly. I want these guys to put up or shut up. If the NRA’s servants in Congress don’t take their arguments seriously enough to apply them to their own lives, maybe the rest of us should do more to stop them from imposing their nonsense on our country.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    A different point loosely related to this post.

    A conservative friend of mine related a blogger had done a study using hunting license granted in various states and determined that the largest armed force in the world is the civilian hunting population of the US. They estimated that with the average state issuing between 400,000 and 500,000 hunting licenses extrapolated out to 50 states we have a legally armed force of 25 million who are also trained in gun safety since almost every state also requires a hunting or gun safety class and are also good marksmen.

    They then concluded that the US could never be attacked and beaten because as Mao had said “In the US there a a gun behind every blade of grass”, or something to that effect. So, I have concluded from that information we can safely end our wars, reduce our military spending except for keeping an eye out for rogue nukes and other WMDs and apply that money to fixing alot of domestic problems.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I like your logic!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
  3. Bard wrote:

    Holmes did later come out against his own ruling in the paraphrased “shouting fire in a crowded theater”. Only a year later he wrote the dissent in Abrams Vs United States which was looking to overturn Schneck Vs United States from which Fire is famous.

    When it comes to free speech, I’ve always enjoyed this quote:

    “Anarchism says, Make no laws whatever concerning speech, and speech will be free; so soon as you make a declaration on paper that speech shall be free, you will have a hundred lawyers proving that “freedom does not mean abuse, nor liberty license”; and they will define and define freedom out of existence. ”
    “Anarchism & American Traditions,” Mother Earth
    Written by Voltairine de Cleyre

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  4. b wrote:

    hmmmm, so “Thune is the author of an amendment that would have allowed gun owners who had valid permits to carry concealed weapons into any state, even states with more restrictive gun law.”

    I think that this should apply across the board because we are a free loving people. Therefore any couple that is legally marriage should be recongized in any state, even states wtih more restrictive marriage laws.

    Also, any doctor that is legally permitted to perform abortions in a state where it is legal, should be able to perform abortions in any state, even states with more restrictive abortion laws.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink
  5. Bearman wrote:

    Maybe the detectors aren’t there to protect the occupants but the building itself.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  6. No u wrote:

    While I get the point your making…it just doesnt line up. People fight for rights to carry guns on the streets because thats where crime happens. On the streets, in their homes, and in stores. If shootings and rapings and muggings happened all the time in capitol buildings I’m sure they’d be pushing for it…or security or something of the sort, but it doesnt happen so they dont fight for it.

    I guess elementary school teachers should bring guns to school because it applies to their daily lives.

    I’m all for making these guys practice what they preach, but their is no point in talking about bringing guns to a place where there is no crime…except for what they do the the american people on a daily basis 😉

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Maybe it would eliminate the need for term limits. 🙁

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  8. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Forget about small arms, who is fighting for my right to own ? How else will I manage to kill one square kilometer of home invaders?

    These are important questions that need to be debated in the capitol while our country rots. Yet again I ask, who is voting for these clowns???

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  9. starluna wrote:

    Crime happens all the time in the Capitol. Sexual assault. Robbery. Happens way more often than gets publicized.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 7:52 am | Permalink
  10. Jeff wrote:

    This would certainly help the congressional turnover rate and get some of those entrenched representatives out of there. Eventually, we may not even need election season anymore, you’ll just vote for a new representative when the old one gets knocked off and then go about business as usual.

    It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “job security”

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  11. Will wrote:

    “NO U”- I think you’re missing the point. This is not about crime on the streets but not in the capital. The contradiction is that if guns are so safe that everyone should be able to have a concealed weapon why is the Senate seen in different terms? Do guns cease to be safe when you enter the doors of the Senate….?

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  12. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    The distinction between general policy and the Senate (in this case) is that the Senate is able to more or less strictly control entrance into the building.

    In other words, weapons are not needed inside the Senate because you can be reasonably assured that nobody has weapons. Unlike walking around on the street, where people are not required to walk through scanners.

    Not saying that I agree or disagree with the article, just tossing that out there.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 5:09 am | Permalink