The US House of Representatives passed a concealed carry reciprocity bill on Dec. 6 that requires all states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states, enabling US citizens to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines.
While most rights we enjoy as US citizens exist no matter where we are in the country, the Second Amendment does not; only a select group of states recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states. While we are supposed to have the right to keep and bear arms, carrying a concealed weapon across state lines is not always legal due to state-level licensing laws.
As noted in an article recently published by The Federalist, these permitting restrictions make the Second Amendment a second class right:
“If you are married in Georgia, South Carolina cannot consider you unwed. If you are allowed to drive a car in Maine, New Hampshire cannot void your driver’s license. Fundamental rights are even more secure: your right to free speech in California is guaranteed whether you live there or are just visiting for the day from Nevada.
The exception to all this is the right to bear arms. Your concealed-carry permit issued in Pennsylvania won’t do you a lick of good in New Jersey. You might even find yourself in jail, as Shaneen Allen did in 2014, for innocently assuming that states are required to give full faith and credit to the acts of their neighboring states.”
The lack of reciprocity for state-issued concealed carry permits hurts responsible gun owners who should be legally allowed to defend themselves with a firearm regardless of where they are in the country (or which state issued the license).
However, opponents of the measure do not see it this way. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told the New York Times that the bill is a way of “telling states who are responsible in the requirements that they place on their concealed-carry permits that that doesn’t matter anymore.”
In April, Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control advocacy group founded and funded by billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, pledged $25 million for 2018 political races and to defeat the concealed carry reciprocity measure.
Everytown funded Maine’s Question 3 in 2016, a measure that would have restricted an individual’s ability to lend firearms to family members and friends without a background check. Gov. Paul LePage called the measure “unenforceable” and “the gun registry bill,” arguing that background checks are not universal when they are not performed on criminals who do not abide by existing gun safety measures.
Everytown, Bloomberg, and other gun control activists outspent their opponents by more than $6 million in that campaign and still lost at the ballot box when nearly 52 percent of Maine voters denied the measure.
Despite the reciprocity bill’s 231-198 bipartisan passage in the House, its fate is much less certain in the Senate where some Democrats have already denounced the measure. Sen. Chris Murphy told a reporter on Dec. 4 that reciprocity was “dead on arrival” in his chamber.
A similar proposal was introduced in 2014 and earned the support of 13 Democrats, seven of whom are still in the Senate. The bill must retain the endorsement of these seven and earn favor of one more Democrat for passage with a 60-vote majority, assuming all 52 Republican senators give the affirmative.
Recent defections on issues like ObamaCare and tax reform leave room for uncertainty on these 52 votes. However, this is an issue that should unite conservatives of all stripes.
Our right to keep and bear arms should be preserved in the same manner that the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and other rights are preserved. Americans are guaranteed these freedoms regardless of where they are within our borders.
Without the ability to carry a personal firearm over state lines (despite actively holding a permit to carry, issued by a US entity), our constitutional right to keep and bear arms is being infringed by licensing restrictions passed at the state level. These laws and rules slowly chip away at our Second Amendment freedoms.
Fortunately, there’s a real opportunity for this to change.