It might surprise you to hear this, but right-wing Republicans actually agree with President Obama that America needs a radical change in our gun laws. It’s just that they have a different idea of what those changes should be.
In the Montana Legislature this month, in the wake of the Newtown tragedy and a scourge of national gun violence, Montana Republicans have moved quickly to introduce a series of bills to deal with what they believe is society’s most pressing gun problem: it’s not easy enough to shoot someone.
There are dozens of proposals, each one stupider and sillier and more childish than the next. Here are few of my favorites:
First is a bill to change our concealed weapons laws. In Montana, concealed weapons may not be carried in churches, schools, banks, bars, colleges, hospitals and a few other specified areas. Republicans have proposed a bill to eliminate these restrictions completely.
The author of the bill, House Bill 304, is none other than the state chair of the House Judiciary Committee. A police officer showed up to a hearing to testify against it, saying he’d “never seen a bar fight that ended well with a concealed weapon.” The Republicans were unfazed by this testimony and are moving forward with the legislation. There’s also a companion bill, House Bill 384, that specifically addresses the injustice suffered by high school students who are denied the right to bring rifles and shotguns onto school grounds. The bill would forbid school officials from punishing such students.
Keep in mind that these are the same lawmakers who proposed Senate Bill 279 which was a bill to allow legislators to carry guns–both concealed and open–in the state capitol building last session. Apparently they think that this will make the capitol a safer place. I’m sure the many government employees who work in the Capitol will feel secure in knowing that a few crusty old Republican men–who start drinking at 10 am and spend the rest of the day snoozing at hearings or ogling high school pages–will serve as a security force in the event the building is attacked.
And if you think Republicans do not believe in guaranteed access to healthcare, think again. A few GOP legislators have just introduced House Bill 459, a bill to guarantee the provision of medical care–to anyone who is armed. The bill makes it a felony to deny someone health care if the denial is based in any way on the fact that the person is in possession of a weapon, and refuses to answer the doctor’s question about said possession. Said another way, this bill ensures that you can bring a weapon to your doctors office, and the doctor may not ask you to leave the premises if you refuse to answer the doctor when you are asked “is that bulge under you clothing a concealed weapon?” It also forbids pediatricians from asking other questions about guns that they routinely ask, about whether the parent owns weapons and, if so, whether the parent is safely storing them in the house, out of reach of the child.
These legislators should themselves seek out a pediatrician, because they are overgrown children who somehow became legislators.
There are many more such bills, including:
HB 302 by Rep. Krayton Kerns would prohibit state enforcement of any federal ban on semi-auto firearms/magazines
HB 215 by Rep. Edward Greef declares the Winchester rifle “The gun that won the west.”
HJ 5 by Rep. Jerry O’Neil amends the U.S. Constitution to prevent President from entering into any arms treaties that infringe on gun rights.
LC1639 by Rep. Scott Reichner would prevent local governments from restricting firearms.
HB 27 by Rep. Ted Washburn would allow the use of silencers when hunting “large predators,” while
HB 205 by Krayton Kerns would eliminate the prohibition on firearm sound reduction devices in the field altogether.
HB 240 by Rep. Cary Smith seeks to allow guns on college campuses.
HB 468 by Rep. Alan Doane would encourage manufacture of ammunition in Montana to ensure availability.
HJ 3 by Rep. Jerry O’Neil calls for an amendment to the US Constitution which “gives the states the right to make whatever guns they want so long as [firearms] stay inside the[sic] own borders.”
SB 304 by Rep. Roger Webb would establish a “firearm protection act.”
HB 292 by Rep. Randy Brodehl would revise laws related to pawn shop stolen gun procedures