Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gun Advocates Cheer On House Passage of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's Concealed Gun Law // A Window Into Bartlett's World

Maryland Juice spotted Maryland Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's name in an op-ed from today's Las Vegas Journal Review. The piece, titled "Carrying legal pistols across state lines," was a flashback to a Massachusetts office shooting eleven years ago. Strange, right? The article (excerpted below), however, provides some interesting insight into the views of the 6th Congressional District's embattled incumbent:
"When Michael McDermott walked into the offices of an Internet consulting firm and shot seven people dead, he had an accomplice -- the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," writes Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America.

"Tragically, one of the victims was a legal gun owner who was licensed to carry in next-door New Hampshire," Mr. Pratt points out. "But Massachusetts law prevented him from carrying his firearm in the state and on the job...."
[He] would probably have had his gun with him if Congress had passed a law -- first proposed by Maryland's Roscoe Bartlett several years ago -- requiring states to recognize the concealed handgun carry permits of other states, as they recognize other states' drivers licenses, Pratt points out....

Since Rep. Bartlett's bill failed to become law, the House of Representatives now tries again. By a bipartisan vote of 272-154, the House on Nov. 16 passed H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, would allow gun owners with valid state-issued concealed firearm permits to carry concealed in other states that also allow concealed carry....
Indeed, Mr. Bartlett has been a longtime cosponsor of bills like the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, and gun owners are getting excited now that the bill has passed the U.S. House. As the effort moves to the Senate, Mr. Bartlett is already moving on to new gun rights endeavors. His current project is to bolster gun rights through HR 2252, the Citizens' Self-Defense Act of 2011. The text of the bill notes some interesting views:
Law-abiding citizens, seeking only to provide for their families' defense, are routinely prosecuted for brandishing or using a firearm in self-defense...

The courts have granted immunity from prosecution to police officers who use firearms in the line of duty. Similarly, law-abiding citizens who use firearms to protect themselves, their families, and their homes against violent felons should not be subject to lawsuits by the violent felons who sought to victimize them....
Too Many Lawsuits: Basically, Mr. Bartlett appears to believe that there is a large problem of gun owners being subjected to legal harassment for using or brandishing their weapons, and that ordinary citizens should have the same legal protections granted to police when using guns. Ergo, his solution is.... more lawsuits? Mr. Bartlett's proposal is to allow gun owners to sue anyone for a perceived knock on their gun rights:
A person whose right under subsection (a) is violated in any manner may bring an action in any United States district court against the United States, any State, or any person for damages, injunctive relief, and such other relief as the court deems appropriate.
FYI: The likely targets of such lawsuits would be police and prosecutors (ie: more cost to taxpayers). Notably, Mr. Bartlett's gun proposals provide useful examples of the inconsistencies in GOP policy logic. Republican officeholders, including Mr. Bartlett, often blame lawsuits as the cause of many social problems, leading them to support ridiculous "tort reform" proposals. But apparently GOP lawmakers see lawsuits as a desirable tool when advancing gun rights.

State Recognition of Rights Granted Out-of-State: Another blip of policy inconsistency revealed by Mr. Bartlett's gun laws is shown by his views on marriage equality. Contrast his previously mentioned belief that States should recognize gun permits granted out-of-state with his view that States should not recognize same sex marriage licenses granted out-of-state. Notably, Mr. Bartlett recognized that this sort of unfair treatment of State's same-sex marriages laws was constitutionally questionable in trying to circumvent the U.S. Constitution's "Full Faith and Credit Clause." But in 1996, Rep. Bartlett was a strong supporter of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (aka DOMA), which allowed states to ignore valid marriage licenses granted out-of-state. He admitted this was a "dramatic" move. A random Internet user's website captured Mr. Bartlett's statements at the time:
"The fact that Congress must take dramatic action to protect the institution of traditional marriage is a sad sign of the decline of moral standards and values In our country,' said Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-6-MD) after the House voted....

A pending court case in Hawaii that might legalize same-sex marriages would have far-reaching implications for the rest of the country because the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution would likely require states to recognize legal marriages in other states....

"New York Senator Daniel. Patrick Moynihan many years ago described the phenomenon of 'defining deviancy down' as the gradual process of whittling away civilized standards of morality and conduct," said Dr. Bartlett. "That is the process which has led to today's action."
CONCLUSION: Even though Mr. Bartlett's policymaking framework is riddled with inconsistent logic, on substance he appears to be very consistently out of the mainstream of today's Maryland political culture. You had to know where I was going with all this, right? Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and his deviant moustache cannot possibly win a General Election in the new 6th Congressional District with these policy priorities! Unfortunately for the GOP though, they don't appear to have a candidate that is willing to stand up to the Tea Party and actually try and win this thing. OH WELL!

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