Friday, March 27, 2009

Gun Reciprocity Bills

January, February, and March of this year saw three pieces of legislation—two in the House and one in the Senate—that would bring us one step closer to actually following the 2nd Amendment. These bills concern the reciprocity of concealed carry permits for pistols between all the states. Reciprocity simply means that one state agrees to honor something from another state. Now I know under the Constitution we should not have to have a license to own or carry anything at any time, concealed or otherwise. But 2nd Amendment rights have been so undermined, misrepresented, abused, and criminalized that we have to pick our battles at this point and win each piece back whenever the chance arises. So, America, this is one battle that needs winning. We can tackle whether or not licensing is constitutional (It isn't, I can assure you.), but for right now, I urge you to contact your Senators and Representatives about these pieces of legislation:

This one is in the Senate, as designated with the "S"
S.371 Respecting States Rights and the Concealed Reciprocity Act of 2009

These two are in the House, hence the "H.R."
H.R. 1620 Secure Access to Firearms Enhancement (SAFE) Act of 2009
H.R.197 National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009

The S.371 and H.R.1620 are identical, and so from here on I will refer to them both as simply the Reciprocity bills. They simply say that anyone who is not banned from having a weapon under federal law and has a valid concealed carry weapons license (CCW) issued from any state, may carry a concealed weapon in any other state providing they abide by the rules of that state as to where they can and can't carry.

The H.R.197 (here on after known as the House bill) is not so great as it has a list of places you can't carry if the state you are carrying in doesn't provide CCWs, like a professional sports event not related to fire arms. What a great idea, not having a weapon at a place where people tend to get overly emotional while drunk. Seams like exactly the place I would want to carry a firearm. Also, it would make it illegal for Mom and Dad to carry at their child's soccer game if the game is associated with a school. (You can't have a concealed weapon on school property per Federal law any way.) So if the game was held off school property but associated with a school you can't have a concealed weapon, but the bad guys can because they don't obey the law. The House bill would also make it so you couldn't carry in bars, again another place you should carry. Remember, getting drunk with a firearm on your hip is a really dumb idea. If you don't plan on driving yourself home, don't bring a gun either.

The House bill also restricts you from carrying a concealed "machine gun" or "destructive device" with no exemptions. While yes, it is very difficult to conceal most machine guns, there are machine pistols. Also destructive devices are broadly categorized (I don't have time to go into that but Wiki has a good concise over view Given the nature of such devices most aren’t concealable, but a few are concealable as easily as any other pistol or pistol-like weapon. This causes the bill to become far too over-bearing in my opinion and detracts from the quality of bill by reducing its specificity. In my opinion, any bill reducing what you have a right to carry is very bad.
Now remember these restriction in the House bill only apply when you are carrying in a state that doesn't issue CCWs. Currently there are only two: Illinois and Michigan. Vermont doesn't count because they allow unlicensed concealed carry (there is hope for us yet!).

Now, I will admit I asked my Congress-people to support all three bills, not because H.R.197 is a great bill, but because I'm hedging my bets. If the Reciprocity bills get enough muster to pass, they are definitely preferable. They have no restrictions other than you must obey the laws of the state you are in. This is no different then when you drive—all the states will recognize your driver’s license but you have to obey the speed limits imposed by each state. With the Reciprocity bills, you will be able to carry in any state so long as you have a valid CCW and only carry where it is lawful to carry in the state you are visiting.

For those of you who don't carry a weapon, or are wondering why any one would want to carry, I will be posting later on statistics from the FBI and national surveys of Police Officers, etc. Those posts will be concerning civilian open and concealed carry and its relation to violent crime within a state and country as it is very relevant to current political movements. But if I may be so bold, do you not think it is better to allow your fellow man to protect himself if he chooses to do so than force him to only be able to defend himself in his own state?

To those of you who need no convincing (or agree with my last statement) that concealed weapons are not only a good idea but a fundamental right of all free people, I ask you to contact your Senators and Representatives to support these bills, preferably the Reciprocity bills (both S.371 and H.R.1620). However, if we must, the H.R.197 is better than not being able to travel with your sidearm at all.

- The Militia Man