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A trigger lock for the gun lobby

The Senate and state legislators have blocked efforts to extend 'conceal-and-carry.' That should stiffen their resolve.

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After years of being pushed around by the pistol-packing gun lobby, many lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in state capitals are finally pushing back. They have successfully blocked efforts by the National Rifle Association to expand certain "conceal-and-carry" provisions. Now they must go the extra step and actually advance reasonable restrictions on firearms.

A string of defeats has disheartened gun-control advocates: in 2004, Congress failed to reauthorize the 10-year assault-weapons ban; in 2008, the Supreme Court overturned a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C.; in February, the Senate passed a measure that stripped D.C. gun regulations, including registration; and in May, both houses of Congress approved licensed gun owners bringing loaded firearms – hidden or carried openly – into national parks (including urban ones).

Last week the Senate found the courage to say, "Freeze!" It defeated, if narrowly, a bill that would have allowed people with permits to carry a concealed gun across state lines. Every state except two (Illinois and Wisconsin) allows gun owners to carry hidden weapons. The NRA argued that self-protection shouldn't stop at a state border.

But state conceal-and-carry laws differ vastly. Some wisely require background checks and training in gun-use and safety, and rule out people convicted of certain misdemeanors, including simple assault – but also extortion (Maryland) and stalking (Virginia).

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