By Jeff Knox
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- If the hype of the anti-rights crowd and their friends in the media is true, all Americans are on the verge of being gunned down in the streets if a new bill introduced in the House becomes law.
The new “national reciprocity” bill would require all states to recognize the concealed carry licenses and permits issued by other states, and would also protect the right to carry for citizens from states where no license or permit is required.
The bill, H.R. 38, was introduced by North Carolina Republican, Richard Hudson, and is just the latest in a string of similar bills that have been floating around Congress for a number of years.
The key distinguishing feature of this one is the protection of carry rights for people from “Constitutional Carry” states, where they are not currently required to obtain a license to legally carry a concealed firearm.
Vermont, for instance, has never had a law against carrying a concealed firearm, so they have never had a licensing system. Eleven other states do offer licenses, but the licenses are not required for carry within the state. Most Constitutional Carry states also offer licenses so that their citizens who choose to obtain one can avoid hassles and delays when purchasing firearms, and can carry when visiting states where their state's licenses are recognized.
There is a bit of a rift within the rights community over the idea of federal legislation forcing states to honor carry permits from other states.
The main argument being one of state autonomy. Many gun rights advocates believe such measures violate the 9th and 10th Amendments, and are beyond the authority of the feds. There is also fear of establishment of some sort of federal minimum standard for issuance of carry licenses. The concern is that if a federal standard is accepted, the standard could eventually be tightened to the point that no one would be able to get a license. Many would prefer to just keep the federal government out of the carry debate and leave it with the states.
The Hudson bill avoids any hint of national standards, and addresses the recognition issue from a “full faith and credit” perspective – having states honor them as they do other states' marriage licenses and drivers licenses.
The basic argument is, if Arizona trusts me to carry a gun, and I do so safely, why would I be considered a threat in New Jersey?
Realistically, most people who commit violent crimes with firearms are not first-time offenders. Most have extensive criminal records and are actually forbidden to even touch a firearm or ammunition under federal law. This fact seems to elude those who are always calling for additional firearm laws. The criminals are already illegally in possession of firearms, so what is another law going to do? Does anyone suppose criminals illegally carrying firearms, are going to do it more, or be more dangerous, if more honest citizens are legally carrying firearms? These laws don't seem to impede criminals much, and liberalizing lawful carry – with or without licensing – has never resulted in the “blood in the streets” predictions of the hoplophobes.
Turns out that criminals and stupid people do criminal and stupid things regardless of laws, while responsible citizens act responsibly, regardless of the laws.
There are some real concerns among rights advocates regarding the details of H.R. 38. It looks like the bill was written to require states to honor carry licenses and permits, then provisions for honoring the carry rights of citizens of Constitutional Carry states seem to have been added as an afterthought. That amendment makes the original section redundant. Clearly telling states that carry rights from any state must be recognized in every other state, regardless of licensing or permits.
Where Are The Teeth?
There should also be real consequences for any state, or officials who unjustly prosecute someone, or otherwise fail to fulfill their obligations under this law.
Expect to see Congress – particularly the Senate, where the pro-rights majority is very thin – use the existence of the two separate sections, and the disagreement within the rights community, as leverage to water down the bill and divide advocates.
Since the Senate will be the harder test, I would prefer to see the bill advanced there first, rather than going through the struggle and publicity of a big battle in the House, only to have the legislation die in some Senate subcommittee. If we can get a decent bill through the Senate, it should fly smoothly through the House, meanwhile the needed improvements can be worked out for the House version.
The new President has already committed to sign a national carry bill upon arrival on his desk.
So far an equivalent to Rep. Hudson's bill has not been introduced in the Senate. Hopefully that will soon be rectified. In the meantime, readers are encouraged to give their Representatives a call to urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 38, while addressing its shortcomings.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org