BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Apparently enough time has passed since the Las Vegas Massacre on October 1, and the murders in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, so that National Rifle Association-backed legislators are now ready to talk about, and take action on gun policy. Not gun control; not "bump stocks," not limiting guns in America, but … wait for it … legislation that would allow concealed-carry permit holders from one state to legally carry their guns to any other state, regardless of that state's laws.
The NRA has called the concealed-carry bill its "highest legislative priority in Congress," as it would allow gun owners "to exercise their rights nationwide with peace of mind." Given the steady stream of mass shootings, we certainly want gun owners to have "peace of mind!"
In the scheme of things, it didn't really didn't take all that long for what The New York Times columnist Gail Collins called "the gun thing," to emerge from underground. And it emerged with a bang last week as the House Judiciary Committee passed an NRA-backed measure which, as The New York Times' Nicholas Fandos reported, "would hand a long-sought victory to gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association."
So while we are zoning out on stories of sexual harassment featuring former Fox broadcaster Bill O'Reilly, NBC's Matt Lauer, PBS' Charlie Rose, Minnesota Public Radio's Garrison Keillor, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, and of course our sexual-harasser-in-chief President Donald Trump dominate the headlines, NRA-owned representatives are busy doing the lobbying group's dirty work.
The committee, approved the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act on a 19-11 party-line vote, a law "that would treat a concealed-carry permit like a driver's license, allowing individuals permitted by any one state to carry a concealed gun into any other, regardless of the discrepancies between the states' permitting criteria," The New York Times reported. "Each state would still be allowed to determine those criteria for its own citizens and all permit holders would be required to abide by local laws."
"The measure also allows visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges and other federally administered lands to legally carry concealed firearms. And Republicans passed an amendment to the bill that would allow off-duty police officers and qualified retired officers to carry guns in school zones," The Times pointed out.
One interesting and important side-note is that "Eleven states grant permits to people who have not undergone safety training. Twenty states allow permits for people convicted of violent crimes, and a dozen do not require any kind of permit or license to carry a concealed firearm," The Times reported.
The legislation has "the potential to create chaos in states like California with strict concealed-carry laws — and shows House Republicans' hypocrisy on the question of states' rights," The San Diego Union-Tribune's Editorial Board recently wrote. "Contrary to Hudson's implication, none of the state laws his bill would supersede violate the Second Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has laid out quite clearly the ways states can regulate guns for lawful users."
Representative Richard Hudson, Republican of North Carolina and the bill's original sponsor, called the measure "a simple, common sense solution" and "one of the most important pro-Second Amendment measures in Congress."
In early November, Hudson said "If anything, the tragedy in Texas underscores why we need to protect law abiding citizens who choose to defend themselves with a concealed weapon. It certainly hasn't changed the timeline. My colleagues have been asking me all week, 'Are we going to be moving your bill? This is important.'"
"I do not believe that my right to protect myself, to protect my family, should end at the state line," said Representative John Rutherford, a Florida Republican and retired sheriff. "My constitutional rights do not end at the Florida state line."
There was some pushback: John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, called the bill a "ploy to weaken state gun laws and allow untrained people and people with dangerous histories to carry hidden, loaded handguns across the country"
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the Hudson bill "shakes the underpinnings of public firearms safety laws." "This bill would overrule restrictions on the concealed carrying of firearms that states have carefully crafted to make this practice safer, based on the needs and circumstances in each state," Nadler said. "Suffice it to say that public safety would suffer if we were to unwisely adopt this legislation."
It should be noted that the House Judiciary Committee also "voted to advance" the Fix NICS Act on a 17-6 bipartisan vote. "Another modest … bill that would seek to improve background checks for gun buyers," the Times reported.
There is little doubt that the full House will pass the concealed carry bill. But, as of this writing, it will take a supermajority of 60 votes to pass similar legislation in the Senate.