Good Times For Gun Rights

I have had a front row seat for a lot of debates on a lot of subjects since getting my first job on Capitol Hill in 1980.  It has been amazing to see how things have changed on the issue of guns.

If we dug into all the emails that I have received in the last year plus, I would bet that a clear majority would be people expressing fear about gun rights and the election of Barack Obama as President, along with a Democratic Congress.

But it hasn't turned out that way at all.

While the National Rifle Association still raises the blood pressure of many more liberal Democrats, gone are the days when that wing of the party runs the show on guns.

Last week for example, the Senate voted 67-29 in favor of a plan that would allow people to carry loaded weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges, as long as that is permitted by local and state laws.

And it would have been an even bigger margin, but three Democrats switched their votes at the last minute to 'no.'

67 is a magic number in the Senate - that's two thirds of the Senate - enough to override a veto.

On Wednesday in the House, Democratic leaders forced a vote on that provision - even though it was part of a larger credit card bill - and the Dems were crushed.

The vote was 279-147, eleven votes short of a two thirds majority.

In other words, those who support gun rights demonstrated that they have almost a veto proof majority in the Congress on the issue of guns in national parks.

While I've been making this point for awhile - that gun rights supporters have a working majority in the House and Senate - the numbers in these two votes were really something, showing just how much times have changed on gun issues.

For many years, gun control was at the top of the agenda for Democrats, a signature issue for their party.

The floor battles were really something to watch.

I remember how the Senate shockingly voted 49-48 for an assault weapons ban, an outcome none of us in the press gallery saw coming.

I remember the months and months of battling over the Brady Bill, before it was finally resolved.

Then slowly, but surely, things changed, and the gun issue became a big loser for Democrats outside of major cities.

And now, even though the Democrats run the show in Washington, D.C., they don't seem capable of approving anything that even resembles gun control.

Now could things change?  Of course.  But I don't see that happening anytime soon.

It is a good time for gun rights in the Congress.