Last month, African-American teenager Trayvon Martin was killed by what increasingly appears to be a vigilante “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” At the time of his death, Martin carried a a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea — his killer, George Zimmerman, armed himself with a 9mm handgun and a concealed weapon permit.
Yet, even in the wake of this tragedy, Senate Republicans continue to push a reckless effort to force every state to follow the nation’s laxest gun laws:
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and 28 other Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced a bill that would allow people authorized to carry concealed weapons in their home state to do the same in other states that allow concealed carry, without requiring a federal permit.
The Respecting States’ Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, S. 2213, is meant to ensure that the Second Amendment rights of people are not infringed upon when they travel between states. But rather than set up a federal permitting process for concealed weapons, the bill would essentially require states with concealed-weapons permits to honor the permits of other states.
First of all, this bill has absolutely, positively nothing whatsoever to do with the Second Amendment. As Justice Scalia established in his opinion in D.C. v. Heller “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” and laws regulating or even prohibiting concealed carry are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment.
More importantly, this bill is a terrible idea. As ThinkProgress explained when a similar bill advanced in the House, the bill is strongly backed by the NRA, and it would enable residents of states with shockingly lax gun laws to carry concealed firearms nearly anywhere in the country. Martin’s state of Florida, for example, issued 1,700 concealed carry permits to people with “criminal histories, arrest warrants, domestic violence injunctions and misdemeanor convictions for gun-related crimes.” Indeed, Florida has yet to revoke Zimmerman’s concealed carry permit.
If Sen. Thune’s bill becomes law, it would mean that Zimmerman would be free to wander nearly any neighborhood in the country, packing a hidden firearm in his waistband.