By Scott Tibbs, July 29, 2009
Last week, the Herald-Times (subscription required) reported that the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment that would allow people to "carry hidden guns in 48 states if they have a concealed weapon permit in any one of them." Indiana's senators took opposite positions on the vote, with Evan Bayh voting for the amendment and Richard Lugar opposing it.
I am a firm believer in the right to keep and bear arms, and I think concealed carry is a good policy. I am also a firm believer in states' rights. It is not the proper role of the federal government to be dictating firearms policy to all the states. If concealed carry limitations are constitutional, then the federal government should not interfere with the states setting their own policy on the issue. This anti-conservative amendment is another example of Republicans implementing policy from one city on the east coast for a nation of 300 million, instead of trusting the voters of 50 states to choose the policy that is best for their particular state through their state legislatures and governors.
This is an unfortunate change from 1995, when the first Republican Congress in 40 years pursued an agenda of devolving federal power to the states. The election of President George W. Bush undermined the resolve of Republicans in Congress to pursue devolving federal power and the Republican Congress actually passed a number of laws expanding the power of the federal government. What gun-rights advocates need to realize is that if the federal government has the authority to expand concealed carry in states that do not already have it, the federal government also has the authority to do the exact opposite. A bad policy from Sacramento only affects California, but a bad policy from Washington affects all of us.