It’s hard to believe that congressional Republicans would react to the nation’s latest mass shootings by advancing a measure that would allow travelers to more easily carry hidden, loaded handguns across state lines. But that’s exactly what the G.O.P. majority on the House Judiciary Committee did last week when it approved a bill that pleases the National Rifle Association while ignoring the public’s desperate need — and broad support — for stronger gun safety.
The bill could go to a floor vote this week. It would require each state to recognize the “concealed carry” gun permits of all other states, no matter how weak. The permit of a gun owner from Georgia, where weak standards allow even abusive partners to carry hidden guns, would be legally valid in New York, which strictly restricts gun sales and does not recognize any other state’s concealed-carry permits. In other words, Georgia and other states would have more say than New York in determining how many guns are safe to have on the streets of Manhattan. The inflow of weapons that could then be carried around secretly would threaten law and order.
The measure fits well with the fantasies of vigilante justice peddled by President Trump in last year’s campaign and enthusiastically embraced by the N.R.A. Mr. Trump, who once favored strong gun controls, reduced the mass shooting epidemic to a Marvel comics scenario in which justice is done and deliverance achieved by heroic gunplay. “If I’m in that room, and let’s say we have two or five or 40 people with guns,” he hypothesized to voters, “we’re going to do a lot better because there’s going to be a shootout.”
Genuine self-defense episodes, however, are scarce. Deaths caused by concealed-carry gun owners are not. Research shows that far from stopping mayhem, concealed-carry gun owners have been doing more harm to themselves, their family members and other innocent victims. Since May 2007, they have been responsible for at least 1,119 deaths not involving self-defense, including in 31 mass shootings and the killing of 21 law enforcement officers, according to the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group.
Concealed-carry has basically become a marketing tool as gun ownership has been dropping. Fifty percent of American households had guns in the past; now it’s little more than a third. Nevertheless, some buyers are…