By Roger J. Katz, Attorney at Law and Stephen L. D’Andrilli
New York, NY -(Ammoland.com)- The “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” (115 H.R. 38) amends the federal criminal code to allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.
Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC), introduced the bill on March 2, 2017. The bill passed the House by Roll Call Vote of 231-198, on December 6, 2017. It was sent to the Senate one day later, where it was read twice and then referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Trump supports it. The NRA supports it. And, rank and file law enforcement officers support it too.
But, there has been to date no further action on it. The bill sits in limbo. Its prospect of passage is, at present, low. Why is that?
What is the U.S. Senate waiting for?
Every day that goes by innocent lives are lost and crimes that could be avoided go undeterred because of restrictive gun laws. Although States like California, New York, and New Jersey have enacted laws allowing for issuance of concealed carry licenses (CCWs), in practice it is extremely difficult for most law-abiding citizens—and virtually impossible for many law-abiding citizens—who reside in any one of those States, or in other States with similar restrictive gun laws, to obtain a CCW. None of those States recognizes a valid CCW issued in any other State.
Having access to a firearm does save innocent lives. There are countless stories of law-abiding citizens who would have been seriously injured or who would have lost their lives if they did not have access to a firearm. U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Alexander Borrego, serves as a recent example of a man who, being armed, was able to thwart an attack on his life and that of his family. But, the lack of a national handgun carry reciprocity law means that lawful use of a handgun for self-defense is subject to severe jurisdictional constraints.
It is not uncommon for an otherwise law-abiding citizen, who holds a valid CCW from one State, to face arrest, indictment on misdemeanor or felony charges, and incarceration if convicted, for having carried a handgun into another State [IE: New Jersey] that does not recognize that citizen’s CCW.
Many American citizens have suffered calamity as a result. There are many examples. Elizabeth Anne Enderli, a decorated military veteran, and holder of a valid CCW from Texas, was arrested for unlawful possession of a handgun when she carried her handgun into New York. Brian Fletcher, a volunteer emergency electrical storm repairman and holder of a valid CCW from North Carolina, was arrested for unlawful possession of a handgun when he carried his handgun into New Jersey. And, Shaneen Allen, a single mother of two, and holder of a valid CCW from Pennsylvania was arrested for unlawful handgun possession when she, too, carried her handgun into New Jersey. Law-abiding citizens who hold a valid CCW from their home State should not be restricted to their use of a handgun for self-defense only to their home State, but, they often are; and the personal costs are dire when a citizen steps foot into a jurisdiction that does not recognize the validity of that citizen’s CCW. But, why should this be?
The right of the people to keep and bear arms for self-defense is embodied in the Second Amendment, as made clear in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Heller case. The Heller case also held that defensive arms is an individual right, not connected to one’s service in a militia. Yet, anti-gun proponents are reluctant to recognize the Heller rulings. They blithely disregard Heller, urging Americans to forfeit the right the founders of our Nation saw reason to sanctify in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
Anti-gun proponents argue that carrying a handgun for self-defense is a threat to a public safety. Public safety is a common trope that anti-gun proponents appeal to when defending illegal gun laws such as the New York’s Safe Act and Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act—sets of restrictive firearms’ laws that are inherently incompatible with the Second Amendment. But, that doesn’t stop anti-gun proponents from promoting them and promoting even more outrageous schemes.
One self-described anti-gun extremist, Marc Jampole, political blogger, exclaims, in his article, “Gun Control Leads to a Civil Society”: “rights change over time. . . . Often we give up one set of rights to gain another one, or some people gain rights at the expense of others. . . . At this point in time, only extremists (like me) want to outlaw private ownership of guns. What mainstream organizations and elected officials are asking for is to restrict the absolute right to own and carry a gun—for the safety of society.”
So, the safety and well-being of the individual is to be sacrificed for the presumed safety of an amorphous society?
Dan Pfeiffer, a former aide to Barack Obama, contributor to CNN and anti-gun proponent, writes in his article, titled, “What to Bring to a Gun Fight,”
“The Democratic gun control strategy fails because it is defined by this poverty of ambition—the determination never to look beyond fear of political repercussions. . . . We are nibbling around the edges instead of proposing bold, meaningful solutions such as: . . . A national gun buyback program [actually, national gun confiscation] similar to the one Australia instituted after a mass shooting that killed 35 people.”
What Pfeiffer fails to mention in his article is that Australia does not recognize a right of self-defense with a firearm. Anti-gun proponents such as Pfeiffer and Jampole hold views that are decidedly contrary to those of the founders of our Republic and with most Americans. Their views are inconsistent with our Constitution and with U.S. Supreme Court holdings, but that doesn’t seem to concern them. Their singular objective is to disarm the civilian population of our Country—under the pretext of safeguarding it—regardless of the strictures of our Constitution, of our jurisprudence, of our system of laws, and of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Second Amendment Heller and McDonald cases.
Anti-gun proponents attack the natural right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. With the active and avid assistance of the mainstream media, anti-gun proponents confound the American public. They use distorted facts, biased reporting, pretentious and dubious moralizing, fallacious reasoning, and empty, deceptive rhetoric.
Anti-gun proponents seek to convince the public that it is in the public’s interest to forfeit the Second Amendment. Indeed, Brett Stephens, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, audaciously argues for repeal of the Second Amendment, outright. Brett Stephens apparently believes that repeal of the Second Amendment and a general ban on civilian ownership and possession of firearms would better serve society. But, would it?
The eradication of guns in the hands of the civilian population would entail the elimination of individual autonomy, the repudiation of individual responsibility, the destruction of individual rights and liberties; and, far from safeguarding life, a general ban on civilian ownership and possession of firearms would endanger the life, safety and well-being of Americans. Anti-gun proponents perceive the loss of these things as necessary to promote a safe and ordered society. But, their notion of a safe and ordered society is a controlled society.
It is loss of Government control over the public that anti-gun proponents are most concerned about. So, talk of promoting the health, safety, and well-being of society through gun confiscation is mere dissembling. Anti-gun proponents don’t care one whit about the health, safety, and well-being of individual citizens who comprise that society. They speak in terms of promoting the welfare of society as a whole even as the lives of individuals within that society suffer through implementation of their anti-gun schemes. Maximizing utility for an amorphous whole isn’t what the Founders had in mind. It is the well-being of the individual citizen in a Free Republic that is sacrosanct and inviolate, not the well-being of a societal collective. The natural right of armed self-defense, embodied in the Second Amendment, makes that point abundantly clear.
Anti-gun proponents must not dissuade us from advancing our goal to strengthen the Second Amendment. Our goal is at odds with their goal of mass gun confiscation to effectuate Government control of the citizenry. That is why we must see enactment of a national concealed handgun carry reciprocity law now. The matter is certainly timely, and President Trump would sign such a bill into law were it to cross his desk. So, then, what are Republicans waiting for? Why are they stalling?
The fundamental right of self-defense, and our Constitutionally codified right of defense of arms has saved innocent lives and will continue to save innocent lives. We cannot tolerate and must not tolerate further Congressional inaction. We must meet the current wave of mainstream Press sentiment and anti-gun proponent efforts to defeat the individual right of armed self-defense, head-on.
Contact your Senator. The phone number to call is: (202) 225-3121. Tell your Senator you want his or her vote on national handgun carry reciprocity now!
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