Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are planning to vote this week on a pair of issues that, perhaps unintentionally, put gun control proponents in a tight spot.
For years, they’ve been demanding “compromise” on gun issues and now they’re faced with the uncomfortable “put up or shut up” scenario: legislation to tighten the National Instant Check System (NICS) – which they want – paired with national concealed carry reciprocity, which they absolutely despise.
The vote will come with the absence of perennial anti-gun Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). He announced his retirement, effective today, amid allegations of sexual improprieties.
According to firearms rights activists, the gun prohibition lobby has previously come to the table with nothing but demands. They have expected gun owners to give up, layer by layer, their rights under the Second Amendment and a majority of state constitutions. If gun owners balked, they were demonized as heartless Neanderthals who hated children; “gun nuts” whose only passion is for cold steel and hot lead.
Gun control advocates have long sought licensing and registration of gun owners and their firearms, “just like we license drivers and register their cars.” That dialogue has now come home to roost, thanks to the reciprocity legislation. If signed into law, it would require that concealed carry permits or licenses be honored by all states, same as driver’s licenses and automobile registrations.
Those same anti-gunners have long contended that the NICS system had “loopholes” that need to be closed. The so-called “Fix NICS” legislation will apparently do that, and yesterday the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms offered four suggestions to amend the bill, ostensibly making it even more workable while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
The reciprocity legislation was slightly mischaracterized by The Atlantic Tuesday when it reported, “The bill would also allow people to carry concealed weapons into national parks and other federally-owned lands.” But that is already legal under legislation signed reluctantly by Barack Obama during his first term.
Congressional Democrats who oppose reciprocity have offered up the same arguments as gun prohibition lobbyists. New Jersey Advance Media is quoting Congressman Watson Coleman, (D-NJ) complaining that reciprocity “will make it easier for people — including those with dangerous histories — to carry hidden, loaded guns across the country.”
Criminals and dangerous crazy people already do that without bothering over concealed carry laws or restrictions, and Coleman should know it. Arguing that reciprocity legislation will enable such people is at best specious, concealed carry proponents contend. Reciprocity will essentially put law-abiding citizens on level ground.
Right now, reciprocity activists are being urged to contact Congress. Likewise, the gun prohibition lobby is working hard to defeat the measure. Anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety is blitzing its supporters with the dire message that this is a “dangerous gun bill…and we must stop it now.”
The vote is reportedly coming Wednesday.