Law enforcement officials nationwide are justified in their anxiety about NRA-backed efforts in Congress to allow anyone licensed to carry a concealed firearm in one state to do so when visiting another state. After all, some states aren’t as discerning as the state of Texas when determining who has enough knowledge, skill and competence to handle a firearm — and those shortcomings could prove disastrous in certain circumstances.
Whatever one’s thoughts on gun rights, one can’t help being impressed at the pride of Texas holders of licenses to carry. They’re proud of their knowledge on gun law, proud of their marksmanship, proud that, as holders of such permits, they must be law-abiding. This should reassure fellow Texans who don’t carry or own firearms — and make them a little wary of any federal legislation that would suddenly unleash among them visitors from states that don’t impose such rigorous requirements.
“Rather than creating a new national standard for who may carry concealed firearms, these bills would elevate the lowest state standard over higher ones and force some states to allow concealed carry by people who do not qualify under their laws,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other attorneys general wrote to lawmakers. “This forced acceptance of the most permissive standards would also affect determinations about the proper level of safety training necessary to justify concealed carry [permits] and the criteria governing whether a person is too dangerous to carry a gun in a crowded place.”
They also said this legislation endangers local law enforcement: “Police officers on the beat would have to determine — often in an instant or under duress — whether an armed individual not permitted to carry a concealed weapon under local laws may legally carry in the state in which he purports to be licensed, with no way to determine if a permit is legitimate or if it is revoked, suspended, forged or otherwise invalid. Even more alarming, officers would be further challenged when they encounter an individual claiming to be from one of the 12 states that allow concealed carry without a permit.”
A spokesman for Congressman Bill Flores, who voted for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act in the House this month, stresses it simply says “if a state chooses to recognize lawful concealed carry for its own residents, it must recognize the right of a person who can lawfully carry concealed in another state to carry concealed in that state.” Nothing, he says, supersedes state or local law “on where, when and how people can lawfully carry in their jurisdiction. If a state says you can’t carry in a bar or in a school or if a private school says you can’t carry, then that still stands.”
Given that motorists use state-issued driver’s licenses to travel in other states, a legitimate parallel exists. Yet this bill also makes ongoing efforts to shore up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System all the more critical. On grounds of pure logic, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would seem to lay groundwork for uniform concealed-carry regulations in the future — and the severe penalizing of states that fail in prompt and rigorous background checks.