You can’t turn on the news without hearing of a robbery, shooting, or carjacking in cities across America. Concerned Americans are taking protection into their own hands and increasingly seeking concealed carry permits.
Despite an estimated 22 million concealed weapon permits as of 2022, concealed carry reciprocity varies from state to state, leaving license holders unaware of whether their permits are honored when leaving their home state.
Thankfully, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), along with 44 of his Senate colleagues, recently introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow individuals with concealed carry permits in their home state to exercise those rights in any other states that allow concealed carry, while still abiding by that state’s laws.
This legislation is exactly the recognition we need to show that our right to self-defense shouldn’t disappear because we cross state lines.
All 50 U.S. states have laws surrounding the legal carrying of firearms outside the home. In some states, open or concealed carry is permitted, while acquiring a permit is difficult in others. This bill will bring peace of mind to concealed carry permit holders that when they go to another shall-issue state, they are considered a responsible American exercising their Second Amendment rights, rather than a criminal.
Unsurprisingly, there is fierce opposition to concealed carry reciprocity in places like California, and other states, where blue state lawmakers propose more gun control regulations. These opponents of concealed carry falsely claim that it leads to crime, increases the chance of a confrontation becoming lethal, and that public safety should be left to professionally qualified police officers.
What they don’t mention is that evidence indicates that concealed-carry permit holders are some of the most law-abiding populations in the nation. In fact, citizens who are permitted and choose to carry concealed handguns rarely, if ever, discharge them in defensive scenarios.
Well-intentioned, law-abiding concealed carry permit holders are not who we should be concerned about. The people who illegally straw purchase and traffic guns are.
The violent criminals who get weapons through this chain are ultimately the individuals eroding Americans’ trust in gun safety, providing ammunition for anti-gun advocates. Cracking down on these purchases and other criminal, black market sources for firearms is how Conservative lawmakers can show Americans that they aren’t in support of a wild west where criminals can openly and easily carry a firearm, but instead want a world where responsible citizens can protect themselves and their families beyond their front doors.
Common sense legislation that protects our rights needs to take priority. In the past, Sen. Tillis has been one of the few GOP members willing to introduce common sense, pro-Second Amendment legislation that would strengthen our background check system while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. When concerns were raised that straw purchases led to more guns in criminals’ hands, he put forth the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to crack down on firearm trafficking.
Bipartisanship does not mean infringing on our Second Amendment rights. This was true with passage of the Safer Communities Act, and it should also be true with the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
Democrats should join Tillis and the other senators sponsoring this bill to ensure the right people — those lawfully licensed concealed weapon permits — can protect themselves when they cross state lines while criminals and convicted felons are penalized for the criminal misuse of firearms.
Dee Stewart is president of Americans for a Balanced Budget.