NRA bill requiring all states to recognise conceal carry permits set to pass through Congress

Vulnerable Democrats may side with Republicans as they eye tough reelection battles next year

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 01 December 2017 23:58 GMT
The National Rifle Association wants to ensure that Americans can go anywhere they want with concealed weapons, if they have a permit
The National Rifle Association wants to ensure that Americans can go anywhere they want with concealed weapons, if they have a permit (Getty)

While much of America has been focused on a massive tax bill making its way through Congress, and developments in the investigation of Russia’s 2016 election meddling, a bill highly favored by the firearm industry has been creeping quietly closer to becoming the law of the land.

The bill, which the National Rifle Association has called its “highest legislative priority in Congress”, would require every state to recognize concealed carry permits granted by other states — even from states that don’t barre convicted stalkers or people with histories of domestic violence.

The legislation already has strong support from Republicans in the House of Representatives, and is all but guaranteed to pass through that chamber quickly once a vote is held. Republicans in the Senate would then need to accomplish something they’ve had trouble with on controversial bills this year, secure several Democratic votes. And, it looks like they may have the leverage to do just that, according to the Daily Beast.

“We have low crime rates, and that’s because we actually have people that are carrying” weapons, Republican Representative Raul Labrador, who represents a sparsely inhabited district in the western United States, told that news organization. “The more people carry, the lower crime will be. Apparently, they like the high crime in their states.”

The handful of Democratic senators who may be pressured to vote for the bill generally come from states where senators are up for reelection next year, and where voters tend to skew a bit more conservative than in states like New York or California, where conceal carry laws are relatively strict.

“I’d be inclined to support it, but I’ve got to look at it,” Senator John Tester, a Democrat from Montana, said. “I think i makes things a lot more simpler [sic] for folks, but, like I said, I haven’t studied the bill. Haven’t really done my due diligence on it.”

Other Democrats similarly told the Daily Beast that they’d consider it, or that they haven’t yet taken a look at what the bill said.

The bill has considerable support at the state level from attorneys general who have voiced their support for the bill. So far, 23 have signed a letter supporting the legislation.

“States should not be able to deny citizens of the United States the basic constitutional right to self-defence,” Jeff Landry, the attorney general of Louisiana, said. Mr Landry is the latest attorney general to join that movement. “Louisiana has chosen to respect the rights of residents and non-residents to carry arms for self-defence. I ask Congress to protect these same rights for law-abiding Louisiana's as they travel throughout the United States.”

States with strict gun control laws, including concealed carry permits, tend to also have low rates of gun violence. Of the big states that are well known for their restrictive gun control measures, for instance, New York has just 4.2 firearm deaths per 100,000 people (3rd least), New Jersey has just 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people (6th least), and California has just 7.7 deaths per 100,000 (8th least), according to the Centre for Disease Control data from 2016.

States like Idaho and Montana, on the other hand — both of which are lenient with their gun laws — have relatively high rates of gun death. Idaho had 14.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016 (15th highest rate), while Montana has 19.2 deaths per 100,000 people (the sixth highest rate).

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