By Joe Angelino
In the next few months it’s anticipated the US Senate will vote on their version of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act which easily passed in Congress last December.
In the House of Representatives this Act is known as HR38, the Senate edition is called SB446. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President this Act will allow citizens with concealed carry weapons permits (CCW) from one state to carry their weapons into another state, with some limitations. This has the makings of a challenge between the constitution’s clauses on individual rights under the 2nd Amendment and state rights under the 10th Amendment.
Passage of this act in the Senate will be a horse race to the finish line, not only because of the close 51-49 Republican-Democrat make-up, but because all Senators are up for election this year. Approximately a dozen Democratic Senators represent states where President Trump won the popular vote in 2016 and these states, despite their Democratic Senators, are actually Republican “Red States”. Senate Minority Leader Schumer (NY) won’t be whipping these Senators to vote the party line on this one vote, or he risks losing them permanently on all future votes.
One of the more fashionable arguments in favor of this act is each state allows driver’s licenses from other states, why not CCW licenses? Proponents of the act say this is exactly what the Constitution provides in Article IV, Section 1 that requires states give “full faith and credit” to the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” My personal problem with this argument is all states have some form of training and skill testing for a driver’s license, but not all states have similar pistol requirements. Further, some states have no requirements for legally carrying a handgun at all; no background checks, no training, nothing.
Arguments against the CCW Act almost universally revolve around fear. Some people are just terrified of other people carrying firearms. The common argument of “it will be like the Wild-West, with disagreements settled by gun fights” doesn’t quite work when considering bucolic, liberal, Vermont. Surprisingly, Vermont’s only restriction is carrying of a firearm by felons is against the law, that’s it. So if you want to open carry on one of the Green Mountains, go right ahead. I believe the better assertion against the CCW Act would be the Constitutional States Rights issue instead of the fear mongering. But that dispute might involve the Supreme Court. With the current leaning of that court, I wouldn’t be in a rush to argue there against this act.
Last Sunday evening the show 60 Minutes on CBS featured debate on this topic. Before the featured guests even began, I was particularly annoyed when host Steve Croft said in his opening monologue “a showdown is shaping up between the gun lobby and law enforcement”; which was just plain wrong. That quip was a slap in the face to rural law officers and was proof of the urban bias toward rural areas. Not all of us live in New York or Los Angeles where cops are plentiful. Where we live a 30 minute wait for a 911 call to be answered is not uncommon.
Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill called the CCW Act a “disaster” and “insanity”. The police commissioner inferred, in essence; the job of law enforcement would be difficult when trying to determine if someone carrying a pistol was doing so legally. Now, I may not have been a police chief of a great metropolis such as NYC, but in my experience, law-abiding citizens enjoying legal constitutional protections were never difficult for me or my officers. I learned in police recruit school to assume everyone I met was carrying a weapon. This doctrine kept me alert, firm and polite, but never paranoid.
There are people on the extreme ends of this issue, some want all firearms to magically disappear, on the other side are those who think a privately owned rocket launchers are good-to-go. Somewhere in the middle there is a realistic goal. It’s estimated there are more than 16 million Americans who carry concealed weapons. They are among the most law-abiding people in America. They shouldn’t be perplexed, confused or criminalized by crossing lines on a map.