At the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting this weekend, attendees won’t just get trainings on the “survival mindset” and “potential threats, be they internal or external, and the response to those threats as intended by our Founding Fathers.” They will also focus their lobbying efforts on a federal bill that would make concealed carry permits reciprocal across state lines, regardless of whether one state has its own more rigorous requirements for carrying a gun, according to the Associated Press.
The bill would effectively allow the weakest state gun laws to operate around the country whenever residents from those states carry their guns, by permitting those individuals to ignore the more stringent requirements in neighboring states. The gun lobby’s claim is that different state laws threaten to confuse and unnecessarily imperil the rights of gun owners when they carry their gun across state lines. But a universal concealed carry bill would create what Erika Soto Lamb formerly of Mayors Against Guns called the “lowest common denominator” phenomenon, in which the weakest concealed carry law prevails, and any additional restraints imposed in other states can be ignored by visitors.
Bills that aim to allow individuals to carry their guns to any state have been floated for years, and garnered significant support in the House in 2011 before being killed in the Senate. But after a court decision invalidated the last ban on concealed carry in Illinois, every state now has a concealed carry law, giving the NRA new ammunition in its lobbying effort.
The push comes at a time when the chasm between state gun laws is only getting wider. In some states like Georgia, gun safety laws are getting laxer with each legislative session, while other states have imposed new checks on gun violence after Congress failed to pass a background checks bill that 90 percent of Americans support.
The proposal is also a departure from the typical extreme states’ rights posture of many gun rights activists. While those in the gun movement have on many occasions gone so far as to seek criminal penalties for enforcement of federal law under the guise of “states’ rights,” this proposal would instead limit each state’s capacity to set its own gun policy.
Bills have already been introduced in both houses on gun law reciprocity. But the NRA plans to rally its base on the proposals as some 70,000 people travel to Indianapolis this week.
The newly re-organized gun safety movement, meanwhile, will hold their own concurrent events outside the meeting to call for universal background checks, and are releasing a television ad timed to the meeting.