The NRA is pushing a sweeping new bill to radically weaken the nation’s gun control regime. Already co-sponsored by 243 members of the House, the legislation would force any state to recognize a concealed weapons permit issued by any other state:
If Congress adopts a bill that the National Rifle Association is pushing, Florida’s licenses would apply to 49 states in all — allowing their holders to carry hidden guns in places such as midtown Manhattan, where the New York Police Department rejects most such applications for “concealed- carry” permits.
Only Illinois and Washington D.C., where residents aren’t allowed to carry concealed handguns at all, would be exempt.
While states can and do already adopt reciprocity agreements between each other, a federal law could create a potentially dangerous “race to the bottom” where a single gun-friendly state with lax regulations could become a haven for anyone in the country who wants a permit. In much the same way Delaware and South Dakota have done with credit card regulations, these states, where gun-rights lobbyists could focus their efforts, would effectively impose their permissive gun regulations on the rest of the country. Already, “in some states, the permits are practically a rubber stamp,” noted Laura Cutilletta, a senior staff attorney with Legal Community Against Violence.
For example, Bloomberg reporter John Crewdson was able to acquire a concealed weapons permit in Florida even though he doesn’t live there and has never held a gun in his life. All it took was watching a 30 minute online safety video and sending some documents and $117 to Tallahassee. A spokesperson told him Florida “doesn’t distinguish between in-state and out-of-state applicants.” Under the new law, Crewdson would be allowed to carry a loaded concealed firearm anywhere in entire country, save D.C. and Illinois.
The spokesperson later told him the permit’s approval was an accident, but only after he called them inquiring about it. And he still received his card in the mail. “As of last month, Florida had issued 843,463 such permits, 93,722 of them to people who don’t live there,” he wrote.
“It is so ironic that it is the conservatives who are trying to push this encroachment, since they usually are very active in championing states’ rights,” said John Donohue, a professor at Stanford Law School.
From 2005 through 2009, U.S. domestic handgun production and foreign-made imports more than doubled, in part due to states like Wisconsin adopting laxer gun laws. Over the same period of time, violent crime fell by over 5 percent. Given that the legislation is already sponsored by more than half of the House, its passage is almost guaranteed in that chamber, and it’s already gaining support in the Senate.