by Dave Workman | Senior Editor
With Barack Obama gone from the White House and Republicans in control of Congress, could this be the year that national concealed carry reciprocity finally passes, with President-elect Donald Trump prepared to sign it into law?
That could give momentum to H.R.38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, introduced on the first day of the new Congress in January by Congressman Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina). The proposal is already getting plenty of support from gun rights organizations including the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, United States Concealed Carry Association and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, along with fellow members of Congress. On the campaign trail, Trump made it clear he supports concealed carry and sees no reason why a license issued by one state can’t be honored by another state.
Rep. Hudson introduced similar legislation two years ago. It comes as the national surge continues for concealed carry, with the number of licenses and permits exceeding an estimated 15 million.
For example, the Capitol Journal noted that South Dakota issued 30,029 concealed carry permits in 2016, describing that as “a record annual figure for the state in its 11th year of issuing the permits.”
Arizona reported 299,680 active carry permits to wrap up 2016.
In Washington, the state Department of Licensing reported 571,476 active concealed pistol licenses, a hike of 4,791 new CPLs issued in December and a total of 61,898 licenses issued for the whole of 2016.
Oregon State Police told TGM that as of Dec. 1 of last year, there were 249,260 concealed carry licenses in the Beaver State. Indiana has more than 776,000 carry permits, according to data from the Indiana State Police.
In West Virginia, where so-called “constitutional carry” without a permit took effect last June, the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram reported that this new law “has not affected police safety, but it has increased the sale of handguns in the area.”
And, in an interesting revelation, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in early January that “Fears about Trump’s rhetoric on one hand, and fears that his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton might try to restrict gun ownership on the other fueled a spike in gun permit applications in Minnesota (last) year.” As of Dec. 7, the newspaper reported, the state had issued 70,112 permits. That’s a 57 percent increase over the 44,696 issued in 2015, the newspaper detailed, quoting a report from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
“Our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that,” Hudson said in a prepared statement.
He called the legislation “a common sense solution to a problem too many Americans face. It will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits.”
The bill allows concealed carry in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. It provides certain legal protections in both civil and criminal cases for legally-armed citizens.
All this is happening on the heels of a record year for FBI background checks, suggesting not only a good year for gun sales but also the rising interest in concealed carry, for which applicants must pass a check.
Last year, according to FBI data, more than 27.5 million NICS checks were conducted. That’s up more than 4 million checks over 2015, according to FBI data. In December alone, 2,771,159 were conducted.
Anti-gunners led by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), the Minority Leader in the new GOP-controlled Congress, have vowed to fight national reciprocity. He has also indicated there will be strong resistance the nomination of a conservative to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia, author of the 2008 Heller ruling.
Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who will protect and abide by the Second Amendment. He can fill more than 100 vacancies on the lower federal courts with judges who interpret law rather than invent it from the bench. He has promised to undo Obama’s executive orders, and get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something truly affordable and less cumbersome.
Gun rights groups have already announced broad agendas, and national concealed carry is at or near the top of their lists. Likewise, armed citizens want an end to widespread “gun free zones” because they only seem to disarm law-abiding people but haven’t prevented any mass shootings.
Also on the gun rights agenda are such items as legalizing short-barreled rifles and sound suppressors (silencers), and reversing efforts to disqualify veterans and senior citizens from gun ownership based on their needs for assistance in handling personal or financial affairs.