If you watch “60 Minutes” on CBS, you might have seen the segment entitled “The Showdown Over the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” which aired on Sunday, February 11. (www.cbsnews.com/news/concealed-carry-reciprocity-act-showdown). It describes how, in December 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 38) which would treat concealed gun permits more like driver’s licenses, allowing them to be transportable across state lines.
In essence, if an individual is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in his home state, he would be allowed to carry the concealed weapon in any state. Section 2 of the bill states: “This bill amends the federal criminal code to allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into, or possess a concealed handgun in, another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.” All 50 states allow some form of carrying a concealed handgun. And 12 states, including West Virginia, are considered “unrestricted jurisdictions” where no permit is required to carry a concealed handgun.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, and co-sponsored by 213 other congressional representatives; the co-sponsors included six Republicans from Virginia, including our own District 10 Representative Barbara Comstock. The bill passed on December 6, 2017, by a vote of 231-198. Those voting for the bill included 225 Republicans and 6 Democrats.
Needless to say, the bill is opposed by mayors, police commissioners and district attorneys in major cities around the country. In the “60 Minutes” piece, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was quoted as saying that he thinks the bill would be a disaster for New York City, and NYC Police Commissioner James O’Neill called the bill “insanity.” Fifty million people visit New York City every year, and even if only a tiny fraction were legally carrying concealed weapons it would mean hundreds of thousands of additional guns on the streets of New York.
There is currently no national database for concealed carry permits, so police departments in any city would not be able to immediately determine whether someone was legally carrying or not. H.R. 38 would, in effect, impose the most lax gun laws from states across the nation on all other states.
I believe that many, many citizens are completely unaware of this legislation, which is scheduled to be debated in the U.S. Senate this coming spring. In my opinion, this bill is unconscionable, and the congressional representatives who vote for it are without conscience as well (and also likely deeply beholden to the NRA for large campaign contributions.) We will all be far less safe on the streets of our cities if this bill becomes law.
We know that our own Barbara Comstock falls into the NRA-beholden category. She must be replaced in the elections this coming November. And we should all call any senators that we have access to and let them know that, especially in the wake of the most recent Parkland, Florida school shooting, this bill should be soundly defeated.
Mark Zimmerman is a resident of Frederick County.