U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (S. 446) this week.
Like its companion version in the House, which was introduced back in January, S. 446 seeks to ensure that law-abiding citizens who are licensed to carry in their home state can also carry when traveling around the country.
“This bill strengthens both the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and the power of states to implement laws best-suited for the folks who live there,” Sen. Cornyn said in a statement.
“This legislation is an important affirmation of our Second Amendment rights and has been a top priority of law-abiding gun owners in Texas for a long time,” he continued.
The bill, if passed, will do all of the following:
- Ensure that valid concealed carry permits issued in one state are valid for carrying concealed handguns in other states that recognize their own resident’s right to concealed carry;
- Allow those from constitutional carry states the ability to carry in other states that recognize their own resident’s right to concealed carry;
- Put the burden of proof clearly on the state to show that an individual carrying concealed did not comply with the law, thus protecting law-abiding gun owners from onerous civil suits;
- Provide legal protections against states that violate the intent of this bill, making attorney’s fees and damages available to victorious plaintiffs in civil suits, as well as to defendants who prevail in criminal cases; and
- Allow individuals who are carrying concealed to do so in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.
It’s important to note that the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act does not tell the states that they have to adopt a certain concealed-carry issuing standard (e.g. May Issue versus Shall Issue versus Constitutional Carry) or rewrite laws governing the use of force (e.g. Stand Your Ground, Castle Doctrine, Duty to Retreat). In other words, the states retain the authority to determine the regulations and process for one to carry in public as well as what constitutes the lawful use of deadly force.
“The current patchwork of state and local gun laws is confusing and can cause the most conscientious and law-abiding gun owner to run afoul of the law when they are traveling or temporarily living away from home,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA. “Senator Cornyn’s legislation provides a much needed solution to a real problem for law-abiding gun owners.”
The bill was cosponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John McCain (R-AZ), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), David Perdue (R-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Todd Young (R-IN).
Unsurprisingly, news of the bill’s introduction was met with immediate criticism from gun-control organizations.
“Senator Cornyn’s bill is a dream for the gun lobby and a nightmare for public safety,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety in a statement. “For centuries, cities and states have set their own reasonable, tailored limits on who can carry hidden, loaded guns in their public spaces. One size does not fit all, and this NRA-backed bill would only make the weakest link the law of the land – gutting America’s public safety laws.”
Likewise, Shannon Watts the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is part of the Everytown coalition, lashed out against the legislation calling it “radical” and arguing that it would “undermine public safety laws from coast to coast.”
“It would also go against the will of the majority of Americans – 88 percent of whom support requiring safety training and a clean criminal record in order to carry a hidden, loaded handgun in public,” said Watts. “Moms Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors in all 50 states will band together with police, mayors and lawmakers to fight this dangerous legislation. The safety of our families and communities are on the line.”
At this point, it’s difficult to tell whether the votes are there in the Senate to pass this bill. A 60-vote threshold would be required to override a Democratically-led filibuster. As with the Hearing Protection Act, which would remove suppressors from the NFA, we might not know its fate until the 2018 midterms. Either way, we’ll keep you posted.
Concealed Carry Facts, courtesy of NRA-ILA:
- Every state in our nation recognizes the right of residents to lawfully carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense – a right that more than 15 million Americans now exercise.
- America’s experience with concealed carry demonstrates that the repeated anti-gun claim that concealed carry increases violence is factually incorrect. The available evidence shows that concealed carry licensees are exceptionally law- abiding.
- National reciprocity is already a reality in the 22 states that recognize all other concealed carry licenses or allow law-abiding non-residents to carry a firearm without a license.
- Only ten states still refuse to grant full faith and credit to the permits of other states, forcing lawful concealed carriers to surrender their rights when traveling through these jurisdictions. The consequence is obvious, as otherwise law-abiding citizens – including veterans, a single mother, a disaster response worker, a nurse and medical school student, and even a corrections officer – have become accidental criminals and suffered seizure of property, arrest, detention, and even prosecution because they failed to navigate the legal minefield that is the current state reciprocity system.