The ‘National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act’

There hasn’t been much action in Washington on gun laws in a while, but there’s one bill that’s starting to take on higher profile, in large part because it might pass.

Two lawmakers are calling on President Obama to issue a veto threat against gun legislation working its way through Congress that would make it easier for people to carry concealed handguns across state lines, signifying growing concern among Democrats that the measure may reach the president’s desk.

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday calling the legislation a “dangerous measure” and saying its passage would weaken state gun laws.

“Passage of such a law would start a race to the bottom on gun safety with each state forced to follow another state’s laws on gun ownership,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

The bill is called the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, and it’s expected to pass the House early next week. Since it has a chance of passing the Senate, the White House’s position is starting to become more important.

And with that in mind, it’s probably worth taking the time to consider the proposal in more detail.

I should note that, while I’m a pretty consistent lefty, I don’t consider myself a big gun-control guy, and I generally question the efficacy of measures pushed by gun-control advocates. That said, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act is a mess.

This extreme legislation … would obliterate state and local eligibility rules for concealed weapons and the state’s discretion to decide whether to honor another’s permits.

At least 36 states now set a minimum age of 21 for carrying concealed guns, and 35 states require some sort of gun-safety training. Thirty-eight states prohibit people convicted of certain violent crimes like misdemeanor assault or sex crimes from carrying concealed weapons.

The act would override those rules, requiring states with tight restrictions, like New York and California, to allow people with permits from states with lax laws to tote concealed and loaded guns in their jurisdiction.

If ideological consistency was in any way important to Republicans, this legislation would be deemed utterly ridiculous. The proposal intends to have Washington tell states that they have to effectively forfeit their ability to decide who can legally carry concealed and loaded firearms.

It’s as obvious an assault on states’ rights as any measure considered in this Congress, and Republicans love it anyway. As Frank Bruni recently explained, “The bill thus far has more than 200 Republican co-sponsors in the House, many of them conservatives who otherwise complain about attempts by an overbearing federal government to trample on states’ rights in the realms of health care, tort reform, education — you name it. But to promote concealed guns, they’re encouraging big, bad Washington to trample to its heart’s content.”

The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the Police Foundation are all fighting against the bill, but Republicans are ignoring them, too.

I’d be surprised if the White House issued a veto threat, but it’s a bill that’s worth watching.