The U.S. House of Representatives brought America one step further away from meaningful handgun control yesterday when it voted 231-198 in favor of the "Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act," which would make concealed pistol permits issued in one state valid in all states, as driver's licenses and marriage licenses are.
Reciprocity has been a major goal of the National Rifle Association, which has been promoting the expansion of permissive concealed carry laws since the late 1980s. (Interestingly, the last bill aimed at establishing national concealed carry reciprocity was introduced in 1997 by an Idaho Senator—and NRA board member—by the name of Larry Craig.)
"This vote marks a watershed moment for Second Amendment rights," NRA executive director for legislative action Chris Cox told CNN. "The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is the culmination of a 30-year movement recognizing the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, and their loved ones, including when they cross state lines."
The act's author, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), reportedly told his fellow representatives that the legislation was inspired by the story of a woman from Pennsylvania who was jailed for bringing her gun to New Jersey, where her license wasn't valid.
"Are you serious?" CNN quoted Hudson as exclaiming. "We have to make sure that never happens again."
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) called Hudson's bill "an outrage and an insult to the families" killed by gun violence. Esty represents Newtown, the town in which Sandy Hook Elementary School is located.
The one ray of light may lie in the fact that Hudson is the one who compared concealed carry permits to drivers licenses, marriage licenses, and divorce decrees—all three of which are substantially more difficult to acquire than a concealed carry permit for a pistol.
It's possible that, were such an act to be passed by the Senate and signed into law, it might establish at least the intellectual precedent for making these permits slightly more challenging to get.
(Highly recommended: Jennifer Mascia's April, 2017 article in The Trace about the state-by-state requirements for getting a CCP, "26 States Will Let You Carry a Concealed Gun Without Making Sure You Know How to Shoot One.")
According to CNN's report, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)—who called the bill "a disgraceful handout to the powerful gun lobby and gun manufacturers," and said that "GOP" should stand for "guns over people"—also believes the legislation is "going nowhere in the Senate" because it's being grouped with two other widely-supported pieces of firearms-related legislation.
One would address flaws in the background check system and the other would [you really have to read this to believe it] "direct the Bureau of Justice Statistics to study all crimes involving firearms and report back to Congress in six months about how many involved weapons with 'bump fire stocks,' accessories that can allow semi-automatic weapons guns to fire at a rate similar automatic ones."
Just to summarize, they're voting on whether or not to tell a government office to investigate the possibility that a firearm accessory might play a role in mass shootings. Such is the state of "the conversation."
I recently wrote a story about my experiences getting and using a concealed carry permit (the application for which took me significantly less time to fill out than this stupid post took me to write, btw). In it, I cited the brilliant gun blogger Mike Weisser's observation that the only two significant pieces of federal gun-control legislation passed in the past 50 years—the Gun Control Act in 1968 and the Brady Bill in 1993—were enacted when Democrats controlled the White House, House, and Senate.
We're a long way from that situation, so it would be wise to expect more and more legislation that normalizes gun ownership.
I also mentioned the NRA's "40-year blitzkrieg of political bullying and duplicitous social engineering," predicated on "manipulating its loyal, credulous membership into viewing a legitimate public-health issue as a burlesque conflict between tyranny and liberty."
As Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) told CNN after Hudson's bill was approved, "The Bill of Rights is not a philosophical exercise."
Except that of course it is.
Whether or not reciprocity advances to the Senate, lesser, de facto forms of it exist between some states already. Either way, the bill itself is unlikely to cause a national crimewave. According to Mike Weisser, the practical cost of this legislation lies in its confirmation of a lethal bias.
"The problem with H.R. 38," he wrote yesterday, "is not that it will unleash a horde of CCW [Concealed Carry Weapons]-killers going from state to state. Rather, the bill reinforces the mistaken notion that guns are an effective and necessary device to protect society from crime. This is a view now held by a majority of Americans, gun owners or not. The GVP [Gun Violence Prevention] movement needs to confront this issue head on, not by simply trying to keep people from walking around with a gun."