On Monday, Senator Jon Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to Congress. As The Hill reported, the significance of this bill to concealed carry permit holders cannot be understated:
The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act introduced Monday by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) would require states to recognize gun permits from law-abiding citizens in other states.
“This bill strengthens both the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and the power of states to implement laws best-suited for the folks who live there,” Cornyn said in a statement. “This legislation is an important affirmation of our Second Amendment rights and has been a top priority of law-abiding gun owners in Texas for a long time.”
This bill has been at or near the top of the NRA’s and gun rights advocates’ “wish list” for legislation (including myself) since Trump won the election. Though the removal of suppressors from NFA restrictions is a good first step, CCW reciprocity is the prize that gun rights advocates have wanted all along – and for good reason.
Currently, states all issue their own CCW permits, and while some have “reciprocity” with others (granting concealed carry rights to permitholders from other states), many (notably liberal states) do not. The US Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) has a handy tool which allows you to see which states you can and cannot legally carry your firearm concealed in, depending on which states have issued you permits or not.
This has led to a number of CCW holders, including private security, to gain a hodgepodge of permits, but even having 3 or 4 will almost never grant you full access to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Regardless, the Utah permit in particular is extremely popular, due to its large reciprocity network, which has led many gun instructors to offer “crash courses” to obtain an out-of-state Utah CCW permit:
National CCW reciprocity would change all of that. Like a driver’s license, marriage license (including the gay ones), and many other licenses, if you have one in one state, it is just as valid in the rest of the nation. While some states and municipalities could conceivably resist by designating wide swaths of territory as a “gun free zone” and arresting/imprisoning whatever violating citizens it could catch, it would be difficult to simply label an entire municipality or state as such, and use that to subvert a federal law.
Though the liberal outlets will predictably wail and gnash their teeth about this one, it will all come down to the votes. The bill should easily pass the house, where Republicans have over 40 more seats than Democrats. Passing the bill will therefore come down to the Senate, where 40 of 100 Senators can filibuster any bill. Ammoland provided a great synopsis on the prospects for passage in the Senate, noting Senator Cornyn’s similar bill in 2013, which came within 3 votes of breaking a Senate filibuster, where it presumably would have been vetoed by then-President Obama:
33 senators voted against it, and are still in office. The turnover of 10 senators who voted against the bill from 2013 to2017, only switches one vote with clarity. Of the 33 who are still in office, five are up for election in 2018, in states that Trump won. Those five senators are from states with large numbers of concealed carry permits. One, Missouri, is now a Constitutional carry state, which means that everyone who votes in Missouri, over the age of 20, is now a potential legal gun carrier. The numbers of permit holders in those states has increased from those listed below:
Bill Nelson, Florida Over – 1,400,000 resident permits in Florida. All are voters.
Claire McCaskill, Missouri – Over 171,000 permits, potentially all voters over 20.
Sherrod Brown, Ohio Over – 574,000 permits in Ohio. All are voters.
Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Over – 1,000,000 permits in the state. All are voters.
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, over 240,000 permits in the state. All are voters.
So, if Republicans can line up the previous group to vote for CCW reciprocity again, they would only need to flip two votes, and the easiest targets are the above five, who are up for re-election in states Trump just won. As I have pointed out before, Claire McCaskill is an exercise in hypocrisy, so getting her to flip-flop on gun rights is certainly possible. Bill Nelson has introduced a CCW reciprocity bill in the past, and needs to do whatever it takes to win re-election. He seems like someone who could be persuaded to change his vote.
According to Ammoland, Tammy Baldwin is an “extreme ideologue” who cannot be expected to switch. Brown and Casey have not historically been friendly to the Second Amendment, so they cannot be expected to switch either. So this will likely be an extremely close vote, and it is also reasonable that many of the Democrats who voted for the bill in 2013 might not be so keen to support it this time around, especially if they are not facing re-election.
So, is there an “X-Factor” that could push the vote one way or the other? Of course there is.
Again, Ammoland explains the significance of President Trump and his support for CCW reciprocity:
It is reasonable to believe that in 2013, the Obama administration lobbied hard against the national reciprocity bill. In 2017, it is reasonable to believe that the Trump administration will lobby hard in favor of it. National reciprocity was one of the pillars of the Donald Trump campaign.
Will they be able to switch two votes to overcome the 60 vote filibuster barrier? It looks to be eminently plausible.
Trump is a big supporter of gun rights, and his support could make up the necessary difference to bring a bill to his desk. Will it happen? Your guess is as good as mine. If Trump is unable to sway the necessary votes, those who vote against the bill could be in for a world of hurt in next year’s elections. And so far, Trump has done exactly what he said he would do.
I for one am optimistic this can get done. As Sebastian of PA Gun Blog points out, gun control has been a losing issue for Democrats:
I keep telling Dem friends, “Look, Hillary was a uniquely awful candidate. How bad is Hillary Clinton? She lost to Donald Trump.” It’s often a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true. Hillary did literally nothing to have broad appeal. Her girl power campaign was alienating to men. That’s bad news when you need Black and Hispanic men to turn out for you in numbers that rival Barack Obama’s if you’re going to win.
Making gun control the centerpiece of her campaign only scared off voters who might have been open to her in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. That virtue signaling works for Dems in safe districts. It’s bad news in a nationwide race. Barack Obama ran both times downplaying his support for gun control. It was only after he didn’t have to face voters any longer that we saw his true colors on the issue.
Trump could be the wild card gun owners needed all along to push this bill across the finish line, but every vote counts. When the time comes, call the offices of the Senators in question who are standing between the bill’s passage, and let them know where you stand. Worst case scenario, they will know what they’re in store for if they vote against it. If they stand in the way of National CCW reciprocity, make them pay with their careers.
Best case scenario? A big win for gun rights. Which is part of the reason Trump got elected in the first place.
Update – 5/29/2017: Spencer Rands of the Armed Self-Defense Institute (ASDI) in Utah was kind enough to provide Free Market Shooter an updated map and course information for Utah permits. If you are interested in obtaining a Utah Concealed Carry permit, please visit his website at: https://trainasdi.com/utah-ccw. Spencer and his team provide training for both resident and non-resident Utah permits. Hopefully, CCW reciprocity is passed sooner rather than later, but until it is, a Utah permit is a great one to have. Even if the law is passed, training from places like ASDI is extremely helpful in training shooters of all levels how to safely fire and carry a concealed weapon, as well as provide them the tools necessary to keep their skills sharp.