If the Washington gun lobby and their allies in Congress get their way, states across the country will be stripped of their ability to decide who can -- and more importantly, who can’t -- legally carry a hidden, loaded gun inside their borders.
More than 65,000 Americans have already signed a petition urging Washington to respect the rights of local communities to decide who can carry concealed, loaded guns in their state. But unfortunately, Congress is still considering a bill that would force all states to recognize out-of-state permits for carrying concealed handguns, even when those out-of-state permits are held by:
- People convicted of assault
- Domestic abusers
- Drug addicts
- People with violent arrest records
- People convicted of illegal firearms possession
- Sex predators
- Habitual alcohol abusers
- People with zero training who’ve never touched a gun before
This drastic new federal policy, called the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011” (H.R.822), would override the laws of almost every state and put our communities and police officers at unnecessary risk.
IGNORING STATES’ UNIQUE NEEDS
State legislatures have intensely debated and ultimately decided their own standards for who can carry a loaded, concealed gun in their communities.
- 38 states do not issue permits to people who have been convicted of certain violent misdemeanors, like assault or sex crimes;
- 36 states do not issue permits to people under the age of 21; and
- 35 states require gun safety training, often including live fire drills or other proof of competency with a firearm.
This legislation would eliminate all of these standards, reducing concealed carry permitting to a lowest common denominator imposed by Congress as a federal mandate.
Today, each state also has the right to experiment and make its own decision about whether to accept other states’ permits based on their own public safety needs. Many states have done so. And some states have decided to terminate these “reciprocity” agreements when they undermined public safety:
- Nevada stopped recognizing carry permits issued by both Utah and Florida when those states’ requirements for issuing a permit became too lax.
- New Mexico has stopped recognizing concealed carry permits issued by Utah.
If this bill becomes law, it would strip states of the right to make their own decisions about whether to recognize other states’ permits – and to change course based on evidence that they’re putting police and communities in danger.
PUTTING POLICE AT RISK
Every sheriff and police officer in the country would have to honor concealed carry permits from all 50 states -- but first they’d need to be able to verify the validity of each state’s different type of permit.
- Knowing local laws and recognizing when someone is breaking them already keeps our law enforcement busy. But this law wouldn’t even give police a way to ensure out-of-state permits were valid or up to date.
- With no national system to check who can legally carry a concealed gun, even routine situations like traffic stops could turn life-threatening. If an officer discovered a gun, they’d have to quickly and accurately determine whether the out-of-state permit was valid – an impossible task in the middle what could be a tense or dangerous moment.
- Some state permits look as simple as a library card, and would be just as easy to forge.
Reciprocity could also obstruct law enforcement efforts to stop illegal gun trafficking.
- Simply having a concealed carry permit would enable a gun trafficker to bring cars or backpacks full of guns across state lines, and they could simply present their out-of-state carry permit if they got stopped.
- To make any arrests, police would actually have to observe a trafficker in the act of selling guns illegally.