- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The left has permanently lost the argument on gun control. Despite their best efforts to take advantage of the tragic shooting in Arizona to promote pointless restrictions on things like the size of handgun magazines, the propaganda campaign is unlikely to go anywhere. Instead, the right to keep and bear arms continues to gain steam as state lawmakers around the country are enacting measures that would have been unthinkable not so long ago.

On Monday, Wyoming lawmakers sent Gov. Matt Mead a “castle doctrine” bill that recognizes the right of residents to use a gun to protect themselves from home invasion or carjacking without fear of civil or criminal prosecution. A spokesman for Mr. Mead said the governor would review the proposal today, along with a second bill granting residents the ability to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The lawmakers also proposed a constitutional amendment recognizing the perpetual right to hunt, fish and trap.

No less should be expected from a place calling itself “The Cowboy State,” but even swing states are open to the idea of ditching obsolete relics of an anti-gun past. A Pennsylvania Senate committee held a hearing yesterday on a castle doctrine bill. The General Assembly has adopted similar legislation in the past only to be thwarted by the veto pen of then-Gov. Ed Rendell. Voters have since replaced the Democratic party chieftain with Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who promised, “I would sign it” during the campaign.

The North Carolina Senate passed its own castle doctrine bill Monday. In Arizona, where laws are already gun-friendly, the House last week endorsed a proposal that would prevent overzealous homeowners associations from denying residents their constitutionally protected right to own firearms. The legislature’s Democratic and Republican caucuses likewise support a Senate bill that would prevent university administrators from denying students with concealed carry permits from bringing weapons on campus.

Whenever the left is defeated at the statehouse and ballot box, it turns to the courts. The Supreme Court shot down most of these efforts with the District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago rulings reviving judicial recognition of the Second Amendment. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe received legislation on Monday that forbids local governments from attempting to file liability lawsuits against manufacturers of guns and ammunition. The same bill also prohibits localities from passing any sort of “emergency ordinance” to seize Americans’ firearms as happened in New Orleans during the Katrina hurricane.

At the national level, Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, and Rep. Heath Schuler, North Carolina Democrat, introduced a measure providing for national reciprocity of concealed carry permits. That means anyone with the legal ability to carry in his home state could do so in another state as long as he abides by all applicable state laws. It’s unfortunate this common-sense bill has no chance of getting past the Oval Office as long as it is occupied by a bigoted man who derisively describes small-town America as a place where people “cling to guns.”

The Stearns-Schuler bill will likely have to wait until at least 2012, but grass-roots groups like the National Rifle Association aren’t waiting until then to shape the landscape for gunowners’ rights. Passage of these NRA-backed measures also reflects the growing realization among many Democratic lawmakers that they’ve lost gun control as a political issue.