SOMETIMES, Congress does the right thing, even if it's only by accident. That was the case when the Senate rejected a bid to expand concealed-carry gun rights. The proper conclusion was reached only because the vote - 58-39 in favor - fell two short of the 60 needed to add it to the defense spending bill.
For years, lawmakers have been so eager to satisfy every marshal desire of the National Rifle Association you'd think a gun was being held to their heads. Most recently, the big push has been to allow people to take guns to parks, bars, churches, and anyplace else they choose.
The measure that failed in the Senate would have made a concealed weapon permit from one state valid in all 48 states that currently allow folks to hide guns on their persons.
But not all states are equally careful about who they give these permits to. Some states, such as Alaska, allow virtually anyone with a heartbeat to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Other states - such as Ohio - require applicants to complete firearms training and wisely deny permits to anyone convicted of serious crimes or adjudged to be mentally ill.
Forcing Ohio to honor concealed-weapons permits handed out with no more control than free samples at the deli counter would have made a mockery of Ohio's concealed-carry law, endangered the lives of Ohio residents, and, interestingly, tromped all over the states' rights normally so sacred to gun-rights advocates.
Ohio Sens. George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown, as well as Michigan Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, had the good sense to vote against the amendment despite a thinly veiled threat from Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) that the NRA was "scoring" the vote - taking names for the next election campaign.
We wish more senators - Democrats as well as Republicans - had the guts to look down the barrel of the NRA lobby without blinking, but in this case we'll take what we can get from this group of accidental heroes.