Several months ago my colleague streiff covered the story of a single mother from New Jersey who made the mistake of carrying her legally purchased, registered, and permitted gun from Pennsylvania into New Jersey, believing that her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit was valid in NJ. Anyone who has ever been through a concealed carry permit class knows that they tell you if you get pulled over to immediately notify the officer in question that you have a gun in the car, and show them your concealed carry permit. As streiff noted at the time, this woman followed that advice, and as a result, faces three years in prison, despite the fact that she has no criminal history whatsoever, and did not use the gun in the commission of a crime of any kind.
The unfortunate truth is that concealed carry laws are a patchwork mess in this country. I recently went through my concealed carry class here in Tennessee and was informed that my concealed carry permit would be valid in something like 30 states as of this moment, but that this number was subject to flux as other states constantly reformed and revised their gun laws. As a result, carrying a gun that you legally own, have registered in your name, and have a concealed carry permit for in your car across state lines can be a game of Russian Roulette depending upon what jurisdiction you happen into and how politically motivated the prosecutor in question is.
As a result, with Republicans in control of the Congress, gun groups are pushing to pass legislation that would allow for nationwide reciprocity for concealed carry permits. Under this legislation, each state could continue to set their own regulations for permits pertaining to their own residents, but if you have a valid concealed carry permit from your home state it would automatically be valid in any of the other 50 states if you are traveling. There’s only one thing standing in the way of this common sense legislation: Democrats.
Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said the bill is needed to clarify a “patchwork of state and local laws” that is “confusing for even the most conscientious and well-informed concealed carry permit holders.”
“The constitutional right to self-defense does not stop at a state’s borders. Law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise this fundamental right while traveling across state lines,” Cox said last week.
[mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ] (R-Texas) is the chief sponsor of the concealed-carry bill in the upper chamber, while [mc_name name=’Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’S001188′ ] (R-Ind.) is spearheading the push in the House.
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Cornyn’s concealed-carry bill came just three votes shy of passing in 2013, when Democrats still controlled the Senate. Seven of the Democrats who voted for the bill remain in Congress, potentially giving Republicans a shot at a 60-vote majority.
The Republican House has passed the concealed-carry bill before, and by a comfortable margin.
Supporters of the legislation are casting the bill as common sense, arguing it would preserve states’ rights by requiring gun owners to follow the concealed-carry laws in the places they are visiting.
“This operates more or less like a driver’s license,” Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, told The Hill last week. “So, for example, if you have a driver’s license in Texas, you can drive in New York, in Utah and other places, subject to the laws of those states.”
Cornyn said the bill would “eliminate some of the ‘gotcha moments,’ where people inadvertently cross state lines” with guns and are arrested.
It is by no means certain that all the Democrats who voted for this bill last time around will vote for it now that Republicans are in control and they don’t have political cover of the majority anymore. Thus far into the last two years of Obama’s term, all he has had to do is snap his fingers and Democrats jump to block whatever legislation he doesn’t like from reaching his desk. But even in the unlikely event that this legislation escapes the Senate, where less than 20% of Democrats support it, it will undoubtedly get vetoed by President Obama, who like most Democrats has barely-disguised contempt for guns and their owners.
Remember – regardless of what a Democrat says or promises, they will always stand against guns and their owners.