Two versions of National Right To Carry legislation introduced in U.S. Senate

by Chad D. Baus

The National Rifle Association reported on March 13 that U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) have introduced S. 2188, the "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012." According to the press release, the bill is the Senate companion to H. R. 822, which was approved by the U. S. House last November by a vote of 272-154.

S. 2188, like H.R. 822, would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes. A state's laws governing where concealed handguns may be carried would apply within its borders.

Today 49 states either issue carry permits or otherwise authorize law-abiding people to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense. 41 states have fair "shall issue" permit systems that allow any law-abiding person to get a permit.

In contrast to dire predictions from anti-gun groups, Right-to-Carry laws have been enormously successful. Interstate reciprocity will serve as a fundamental protection of the right to self-defense by providing people with the ability to protect themselves not only in their home states, but anywhere they travel where carry concealed carry is legal.

Contrary to the false claims of some, these bills would not create federal gun registration or gun owner licensing, nor would they allow any federal agency to establish a federal standard for a carry permit or impose gun control restrictions of any kind.

These bills would have no effect on permitless carry laws, currently on the books in Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont, that allow concealed carry without a permit. In addition, Vermont residents would be able to take advantage of S. 2188 and H.R. 822 by obtaining a permit from one of the many states that offer non-resident permits.

Meanwhile, is reporting that another bill to protect concealed carry permit holders, sponsored by Sen. John R. Thune (R-SD) and Sen. David B. Vitter (R-LA), has been introduced with strong Republican support in the Senate.

From the article:

"I am pleased to introduce legislation that strikes a balance between states' rights and individuals' Second Amendment rights outlined by the Constitution," Thune said.

The legislation, which has drawn initial support from 28 Republican senators, is called the Respecting States' Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, S. 2213.

Thune said that the bill will allow law-abiding concealed carry permit holders to cross state lines without being afraid of breaking the law and that the legislation provides a good balance between respecting the right of states to create their own laws and also protecting gun owners from the different laws of states that they pass through.

Thune said that the law stays in line with the Constitution because it refrains from making a national standard for concealed carry while also protection Second Amendment rights.

The Respecting States' Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act will protect residents of both concealed carry as well as Constitutional Carry states. Constitutional Carry states don’t require a permit to carry a concealed gun. The protection of Constitutional Carry citizens is the main difference between this bill and the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012, which was sponsored by Democrats last week.

According to Human Events, the Republicans that were originally working on the Democrats' legislation jumped over to support the Thune-Vitter bill instead, due to the belief that the Thune-Vitter bill would go farther in protecting gun owners.

One of the Senators that made the switch was Sen. Mike D. Crapo (R-ID), who was initially announced as a co-sponsor of the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, but pulled out and switched to work on the Thune-Vitter Bill. Crapo believes that the Thune-Vitter bill is a stronger approach to supporting reciprocal concealed carry permitting rights among the states that allow it.

A bill similar to the Thune-Vitter one introduced in the Senate made its way through the House in November of last year, which was sponsored by Rep. Cliff B. Stearns (R.-FL) and Rep. J. Heath Shuler (D.-NC). The House bill H.R. 822 drew the support of 40 Democrats and passed on a vote of 272 to 154.

As noted in the article, the last time that Thune introduced similar concealed carry legislation in 2009 it nearly passed, gaining 58 votes in the Senate.

The following senators support the Respecting States' Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act:

Ayotte (R-NH), Barrasso (R-WY), Boozman (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), Lugar (R-IN), McConnell (R-KY), Paul (R-KY), Portman (R-OH), Risch (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL), Sessions (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Toomey (R-PA) Vitter (R-LA) and Wicker (R-MS).

Please contact your U.S. Senators today about your thoughts on these two pieces of legislation. You can call your U.S. Senators at 202-224-3121 or send them an email by clicking here.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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