A new law proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives threatens to significantly weaken regulations on concealed weapons. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act allows any person with a concealed carry permit to carry a gun in any other state permitting concealed carry. The act would take away individual states’ rights to form their own gun control laws and should not pass through the House.
Current gun laws give state and local governments the power to set rules for gun permits within their jurisdictions. The U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, but the specifics of if, how, where and when concealed weapons are authorized for use are decisions left up to individual states. Many states restrict the sale of concealed weapons to people over age 21, and some refuse to give concealed carry permits to violent offenders.
Gun control is a controversial issue, so it’s appropriate that each state can make its own decisions about gun regulations within its borders. However, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act would negate many of these rules by forcing states with strict gun regulations to recognize permits from states with weaker gun laws. All states would be required to allow visitors to carry concealed handguns as long as the laws of the visitors’ home state permit them to do so.
The National Rifle Association is a primary supporter of the bill because it would eliminate the complications associated with interstate travel for individuals with concealed carry permits. Supporters of the bill contend that current regulations can make travel across state lines difficult for people who wish to carry a concealed weapon. But these individuals fail to realize the danger that decreased regulation on concealed carry permits could cause and also fail to recognize that states should have the right to decide which permits from other states they accept and which they do not.
Many Republican legislators in the House who advocate for limited government intervention and maintenance of states’ rights are also pushing for the law. But the passage of the law would unfairly subject the state residents to laws that their elected representatives did not create. Arizona, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming do not even require a permit to purchase a rifle, handgun or shotgun. These lax state laws should not be forced onto other states that do not agree with them and did not vote on them.
In the wake of the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D–Ariz.) in Tuscon, earlier this year, it is time to enact tighter regulations on gun control instead of making concealed weapons more accessible and easier to transport across state lines. States should be permitted to make their own decisions regarding gun control and concealed carrying. This law would completely infringe upon their right to do so and should be promptly voted down.