De-Mavericking McCain

In the ongoing effort to de-maverick himself, yesterday's news that he is a lead sponsor of a bill to eliminate DC's gun laws must go down as the most spectacular and blatant reversal in Senator McCain's political career:

"Legislation introduced in Congress on Tuesday would weaken the District's gun-control laws and restrict the D.C. Council from regulating firearms[...]The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is intended to make it easier to buy guns and ammunition in the District and to repeal local registration and firearm storage requirements."

Six years ago, John McCain joined with Americans for Gun Safety, which I led, to introduce and pass Senate legislation that would require all states - including the District of Columbia - to require background checks for all buyers at gun shows. This was the culmination of four years of work together to tighten gun safety laws and close loopholes, at both the federal and state level. During this time Senator McCain:

  • Was the lead sponsor (with Sen. Joe Lieberman) of federal legislation to close the gun-show loophole;
  • endorsed state ballot initiatives in CO and OR to close the gun show loophole and did television ads endorsing the measure;
  • appeared in a movie trailer promoting gun safety;
  • and was attacked on the cover of the NRA magazine "America's First Freedom" for his work with Americans for Gun Safety.

In his 2004 Senate statement on the gun show loophole, Senator McCain spoke passionately about the need to have tough laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals:

"Why do we need this amendment? Some might point to tragedies such as Columbine, but as horrific as the massacre at Columbine was, where 11 young people needlessly lost their lives, that is not what drives the need to close the gun show loophole. We need this amendment because criminals and terrorists have exploited and are exploiting this very obvious loophole in our gun safety laws. We need this amendment because our second amendment rights do not extend to criminals who violate our laws and terrorists who hate this country.

We need this amendment because, according to the NRA, ``hundreds of thousands'' of unlicensed firearms sales occur at gun shows each year. We need this amendment because ATF has identified gun shows as the second leading source of firearms recovered from illegal gun trafficking investigations.

We also need this amendment because my law-abiding constituents who attend gun shows in Arizona should not have to rub shoulders with the scum of the Earth who use this loophole to evade background checks to buy firearms to peddle to God knows who. We need this because every one of the 15 leading gun trafficking States in America has not taken action to close the gun show loophole. Conversely, 11 of the 15 States with the lowest level of interstate gun trafficking have taken action to close the gun show loophole."

Now McCain proposes to abrogate the rights of the citizens of the District of Columbia to have their own elected officials write local gun laws that are sensible, tough and perfectly consistent with the Second Amendment. That is a remarkable reversal.

It is both stunning and sad to see a man who has been a model of courage and conviction simply toss his principles aside in the face of a primary challenge from a failed politician/talk show host.
So much for the straight-shooting John McCain. We will miss him.