It’s truly a sad day when I find myself chastising Patrick Murphy and agreeing with the Op-Ed page of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but that is where we are based on this editorial today…
Murphy was among 85 House Democrats who joined 181 Republicans in approving a bill that would roll back gun-safety measures enacted by the District of Columbia, after the Supreme Court struck down the city’s 32-year-old handgun ban in June.
The legislation would undo gun- registration and trigger-lock requirements, as well as a ban on semiautomatic weapons. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the measure would “endanger public safety in a city that is already a target for terrorists,” permit “dangerous people to stockpile dangerous weapons,” and hamstring local officials in combating gun violence.
Take that approach nationwide, and it would become easier to buy and own firearms in already dangerous urban areas. That makes no sense, and it’s certainly an odd place for Murphy to be.
As CeaseFirePA President Phil Goldsmith noted in an open letter, Murphy is viewed as “a supporter of reasonable, common-sense handgun safety reforms.” What’s more, his district – even with its slice of Northeast Philadelphia – trends progressive. Hardly NRA country.
Aides insist the congressman hasn’t changed his stripes. He still favors a ban on assault weapons and supports “reasonable gun laws.” The District of Columbia vote was about “striking the proper balance between constitutional rights and reasonable restrictions.”
But it’s hard to see the gun vote as anything but political gamesmanship. With a Republican challenger who’s trying to score points about Murphy’s commonsense view that the United States needs to extract itself from Iraq, Murphy’s vote on the gun bill deprives his GOP opponent – retired Marine Col. Tom Manion – of another issue.
I can’t find a way to disagree with any of that, particularly when (as noted here) Patrick co-sponsored sensible legislation to reintroduce the assault weapons ban last summer (this is a post from a decidedly pro-gun site; none of this information is sourced properly, but I’m presenting it anyway for consideration).
As the son of a Philadelphia police officer, Murphy doesn’t need any lectures from me or anyone else about the importance of keeping weapons of crime out of the hands of criminals. But it is truly disappointing to see such a smarmy act of political capitulation against an opponent who, thus far, has mastered only the accomplishment of remaining utterly invisible (the only defense I’ll give to Patrick is that, in the interim between my May post and now, the Supreme Court, in their rank cowardice and stupidity, struck down the D.C. gun ban as the Inquirer noted, so Patrick has the proverbial fig leaf of legal justification here – once again, since the Supremes did that, they should allow guns in their office buildings and give legitimate sportsmen all the rights they want…tongue slightly in cheek here).
Just because the majority of the 8th district resides in the largely pastoral settings of Bucks County doesn’t mean that it is immune to the threats faced by Philadelphia and other big cites from unregistered handguns (on second thought, maybe Patrick does need to be reminded about that after all).
Update 9/19/08: The New York Times has more here; still shocked that Patrick supported this.