Frelinghuysen between rock and hard place

Entrenched in the House of Representatives for what is now his 12th term and holding the powerful chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen would seem to be sitting pretty.

frelinghuysen-guns-450.jpgBut he has been feeling the heat as progressive constituents of his District 24—which includes the Sussex County municipalities of Byram, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Stanhope and Sparta—have targeted his swing to the right, demanded face to face meetings and targeted him in the next election.

And the Freedom Caucus and super right wing of his own party is furious that he eventually broke ranks and protected his constituents by opposing Trump/Ryan care.

And now he’s caught in the middle of two principles that are dear to the GOP heart: states’ rights on the one hand, and unfettered private access to lethal weapons on the other.

At issue is HR 38, a bill that would federalize the “right” for anyone to carry a concealed gun in any state that allows concealed firearms—no matter if the person is not eligible according to that state’s rules. For example, New Jersey restricts firearms for people who have been convicted of domestic violence offenses, but Montana apparently does not. New Jersey also insists that anyone carrying a concealed weapon meet its own restrictions regardless of those of the person’s home state. If HR 38 becomes law, nothing would prevent a convicted wife beater from strolling around the Garden State with a hidden gun at the ready.

Some people in District 24 consider that a threat to public safety, and on Wednesday the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence protested against the “Arm Anyone Bill” outside Frelinghuysen’s Morristown office.  HR 38 is supported by the National Rifle Association and the Association of NJ Rifle & Pistol Clubs, among other organizations.

Support for the bill, however, flies in the face of the GOP’s long-stated opposition to “big government” overriding state’s rights.

“This bill usurps states' rights,” said the Brady Campaign’s Sue Hannon. “The weakest law is the law of the land. Regulations that make sense in Wyoming don't make sense in densely populated states like California.”

She said she has sought clarification about his position from Frelinghuysen but so far has received only form letters in response.

Frelinghuysen’s office has not issued a statement of HR 38 and there is no mention of the bill on his website.