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Political Report

By Chris W. Cox
NRA-ILA Executive Director

National Carry Bills Introduced In U.S. Senate

As we approach Memorial Day, there’s no better time to reflect upon the sacrifices the members of our Armed Forces have made in protecting our freedoms. To me, the best way to honor those noble sacrifices is to vigorously advance our freedoms.

Our progress in recent years has been tremendous. Just 30 years ago, there was a substantial political movement to ban handguns. Now, by contrast, right to carry is the law in 41 states, and only one state prohibits concealed carry entirely (Illinois). We have opened a new national discussion on the concept of national reciprocity for concealed carry.

The right to defend yourself and your loved ones from criminals is fundamental, and it should not be extinguished when you cross a state border. Yet today, permit holders do need to worry whether their permits are valid before they can safely venture out of their home states while exercising a fundamental right.

Last fall, the U.S. House of Representatives took action to remedy this by overwhelmingly passing H.R. 822, legislation that would establish the interstate recognition of concealed carry permits, in much the same way drivers’ licenses are recognized.

Consider how ridiculous things would be if the situation were reversed—if states administered drivers’ licenses the way they currently administer carry permits. When planning a trip, you’d have to figure out which states allow you to drive. States would recognize some licenses but not others. The status of reciprocity would be constantly changing, literally day to day.

That is the reality of the current state reciprocity agreements for carry permits. While it’s better than having no interstate carry at all, only Congress has the constitutional power to bring real consistency to the rules.

With H.R. 822 already out of the House, the Senate must continue the process of enacting this common-sense reform. In recent weeks, two bills have been introduced to do just that and the NRA is supporting both of them. The first is S. 2188, which is essentially a parallel to H.R. 822, the bill passed by the House. The second is S. 2213, introduced right on its heels.

The bills mainly differ in how they address the permitless carry of firearms, which we also support.

S. 2188 would address permitless carry in two ways: People who enjoy permitless carry in Alaska, Arizona or Wyoming would simply have to get the permits that their states still issue for those who want them. (After all, when those states enacted permitless carry, the main reason they kept permit systems around was for the benefit of residents who might want permits for reciprocity purposes.) And residents of Vermont, which has permitless carry and no permit system at all, would be able to get permits from the many states that offer non-resident permits and be free to carry firearms in any state with a permit system. Many Vermonters already do that under current reciprocity laws.

Under S. 2213, a resident of a permitless carry state would be eligible to carry in carry-permit states and in permitless carry states, provided he or she possesses a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license. In effect, it would mean that law-abiding citizens from permitless carry states could enjoy the benefits of national reciprocity by simply carrying their state drivers’ licenses.

Either bill would move the ball forward for law-abiding citizens, expanding their ability to exercise the fundamental right of self-defense without regard to state boundaries. And contrary to what you may hear from some critics, neither bill would require any state to change its laws. Nor would either bill impose any federal standards for carry permits, or otherwise impose “unfunded mandates” on the states.

We are also committed to advancing the rights of travelers as quickly as possible. In 2009, a previous version of this legislation failed in the Senate by two votes, and if we can get over the magic Senate threshold of 60 votes with any version, we will seize the opportunity.

Needless to say, in an election year, every debate takes on partisan tones. These bills are true to form, with only Democrats sponsoring S. 2188 and only Republicans sponsoring S. 2213. And of course, neither party has 60 votes in the Senate today.

But we are not concerned with partisan political advantage. The right of self-defense has no party label. Neither will our continued pursuit of national right to carry.


James W. Porter II, PRESIDENT




Edward J. Land Jr., SECRETARY

Wilson H. Phillips Jr., TREASURER



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