If you don’t read past the headline of the stories about passage yesterday in the U.S. House of legislation to force states to honor concealed carry permits from states with weaker standards, you might think that Rep. Ken Buck, arguably the state’s hardest-right member of Congress, had suddenly gone soft on the issue of guns:
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 231-198 Wednesday to pass a bill that would allow people with concealed carry permits to carry their weapons into other states where concealed weapons are allowed—though Republican Rep. Ken Buck voted against the measure.
Buck, who cosponsored the bill in January that changed before Wednesday’s vote, was one of 14 Republicans who voted against the measure, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. He was targeted in NRA emails earlier this week urging constituents to call him and tell him to “listen to his constituents and vote for H.R. 38.”
But before you offer a surprised “attaboy” to Rep. Buck, keep reading:
“I strongly supported the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, but could not vote for it in this combined bill,” Buck said in a statement to Denver7 following the vote. “I have concerns that the NICS portion of the legislation places Americans at risk for having their Second Amendment rights stripped without due process.”
Tacked onto the original bill are extra background check measures that would strengthen the FBI’s database of who is not allowed to buy a gun. Democrats criticized Republicans for lumping the measure in with the concealed carry legislation, saying the background check measures should stand alone. The background check measures come in response to Air Force lapses that allowed a man to shoot and kill more than two dozen people at a Texas church.
The recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas that killed 26 people was committed by a man who by all accounts shouldn’t have been able to legally purchase a gun. A conviction for domestic violence while the shooter served in the Air Force wasn’t properly reported to the national database used to approve firearm purchases. As Denver7 correctly reports, that lapse prompted bipartisan consensus that a law to improve collection of this information is needed–drawing a clear line from an horrific mass shooting to a policy change that might have prevented it.
It was Republicans who had the bright idea to stack the bipartisan consensus for fixing background checks on to a far less unanimously-supported bill to enact “concealed carry reciprocity.” This is legislation that would significantly weaken the ability of states to regulate the carrying of guns by forcing them to honor concealed carry permits from states that have inferior (or even no) requirements for a concealed carry permit. Lumping these two provisions together made for a contradictory piece of legislation that Democrats simply couldn’t support.
But for Ken Buck, it was the opposite: strengthening background checks, which most everyone else had agreed on, was too much even to get CCP reciprocity. That puts Buck even farther out of the mainstream than his colleagues who supported the “compromise.”
So no, Rep. Buck, no applause for you. From either side.