Last week, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015, a bill that would pretty much grant universal concealed carry reciprocity in every state that has concealed carry laws on the books.
The idea of universal concealed carry reciprocity makes perfect sense, as Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA, pointed out in his statement supporting the CCCRA.
“The current patchwork of state and local laws is confusing for even the most conscientious and well-informed concealed carry permit holders. This confusion often leads to law-abiding gun owners running afoul of the law when they exercise their right to self-protection while traveling or temporarily living away from home,” said Cox.
“Senator Cornyn’s legislation provides a much needed solution to a real problem for law-abiding gun owners,” Cox continued.
The bill wouldn’t create a national permitting standard nor would it create a national registry of concealed carry permit holders, it would simply allow a licensee to carry from one state to the next provided they follow each state’s laws with respect to concealed carry. The parallel that proponents draw is that of a driver’s license in that one can drive in another state with an out-of-state license, but must obey each states’ respective speed limits and traffic laws while traveling through.
“Our fundamental right to self-defense does not stop at a state’s borders. Law abiding citizens should be able to exercise this right while traveling across state lines,” added Cox. “This is an extremely important issue to our members and we thank Senator Cornyn for leading the fight to protect our right to self-defense.”
Yes, all of that is true, but there is a question of whether such legislation actually has a chance of clearing both the House and Senate and then leaving the president’s desk with his John Hancock. The odds of any bill becoming law are quite slim, as bill tracking site govtrack.us informs us, “Around 10,000 bills and resolutions are considered by the U.S. Congress in each two-year session, but of those only about 4% will become law.” But what about a pro-gun bill becoming law with an anti-gun administration in the oval office?
It’s an interesting question because early on before his Second term in office Obama signed at least two pro-gun bills into law, one removed the ban on carrying firearms in checked baggage while traveling on Amtrak and the other allows concealed carry permit holders to carry into national parks like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone provided there is not state law prohibiting it.
Yet, the landscape is obviously very different now. Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama has taken a decidedly anti-gun position. The president has repeatedly called for bans on many commonly owned and widely popular firearms as well as magazines that hold over a certain number of rounds. It stands to reason that Obama would certainly veto any pro-gun bill that landed on his desk, especially considering that the Senate rebuffed the gun control agenda he put forth following Sandy Hook.
It would then be incumbent upon the the House and the Senate to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. Given that the bill isn’t all that controversial — at least 42 states have a permissive ‘shall-issue’ concealed carry law already on the books and all 50 states have some form of concealed carry issuing standard (the last state to overturn it’s ban on concealed carry was Illinois in 2012) — I believe pro-gun lawmakers could rally some additional support and get that two-thirds majority. But that support wouldn’t come without strings attached and perhaps tossing a bone to anti-gunners.
What would that bone be? If I had to guess I’d venture: universal background checks. That is to say, certain lawmakers wouldn’t agree to support the reciprocity agreement unless the Senate and the House agreed to pass a bill that would require background checks on all private transfers, including those made over the Internet and at gun shows. Depending on how the UBC bill is written, it could be a heavy price to pay — and one that is ultimately not worth it.
When I think about it I’d argue that with or without a federal law granting it, national reciprocity is inevitable. Over the past decade, courts and judges around the nation have increasingly affirmed that the Second Amendment basically means what it says, i.e. we have a right to keep and bear (carry) arms. As more court rulings iterate this very logical and sound way of interpreting the Second Amendment, more states will continue to create reciprocity agreements with one another until virtually every state has an agreement with every other state. Sure, anti-gun Legislatures will fight it tooth and nail in states like New York, New Jersey, California, among others, but eventually their untenable arguments and predictions of a “wild, wild west” fallout will lose footing and reason will prevail.
So, while I support Sen. Cornyn and the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, I also am inclined to say that with the bill or without it, national concealed carry reciprocity is on the horizon. At this point, resistance is futile.