Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nice But Why Not Just Pass HR 822

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) have introduced the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012. According to the press releases (see below), it is similar to HR 822 which passed the House of Representatives on November 16, 2011 on a 272-154 rollcall vote. That bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting hearings.

The text of the Senate bill is not yet available on the Library of Congress's website. I have to assume that it is very similar - if not exactly the same - to what was passed in the House. A bill passed in the House does not need a similar bill introduced in the Senate though it is common practice. Given that, would not it just be easier to work with the bill that has already passed one house of Congress? To my way of thinking it provides less chance of having to reconcile vastly differing bills in a conference committee where the final bill could be watered down to merely a feel-good measure.

That said, this bill does have the endorsement of the NRA. If giving some pro-gun Democrats cover is the price we need to pay, I can live with that.

From Begich's press release:
In an effort to remove burdensome red tape that hampers the ability of legal concealed carry permit holders to carry concealed firearms into other states that allow them, a bi-partisan group of Senators has introduced the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012. A similar bill passed the House last year with a vote of 272-164.

The Senate bill, endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

Under the legislation, an individual with a valid ID and concealed carry permit would be allowed to carry a concealed handgun into any state that has a statute permitting residents to carry concealed firearms, or that does not explicitly prohibit them.

The legislation also says an individual who is ineligible for a concealed carry permit in his or her state would not be allowed to obtain an out-of-state permit in a state with less restrictive eligibility requirements in order to use that permit in his or her own state.

“I’m leading the effort to provide consistency so law-abiding gun owners can carry concealed firearms in every state that permits them without having to navigate confusing rules and regulations in different states,” Begich said. “The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and part of who we are as Alaskans and Americans. This bill is one more step in my ongoing efforts to protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“This common sense legislation would cut down on the layers of regulations facing law-abiding Americans who have the right to own guns and use them responsibly,” Manchin said. “If we can streamline and simplify some of our rules governing gun ownership, everybody wins – especially the 65,000 West Virginians who hold concealed carry permits.”

“This legislation respects the rights of law-abiding citizens by allowing them to defend themselves across state lines,” Crapo said. “Most importantly, they would still have to comply with all the firearms laws of the state in which they travel. The act facilitates the ability of states to design a system for concealed-carrier firearms in a fair way, while protecting the rights of states to honor all of their firearms laws.”

The executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislation Action, Chris Cox, praised the Senators for introducing the bill and said it is critical to protect Second Amendment rights.

"Over the last two decades, the NRA has led the way toward a brick-by-brick restoration of self-defense laws throughout the country. National Right-to-Carry reciprocity is yet another step forward for law-abiding Americans," Cox said. "Citizens aren't immune to crime when they cross state lines, so it is only reasonable that they have an effective means of protecting themselves and their loved ones while in other states. The NRA thanks Senator Mark Begich for introducing this measure in the U.S. Senate, along with Senators Joe Manchin and Mike Crapo, for their efforts to strengthen self-defense laws in America."
From Manchin's press release:
Washington, D.C. -- In an effort to remove burdensome red tape that limits the ability of legal concealed carry permit holders to carry concealed firearms into other states that allow them, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012.

Under the legislation, an individual with a valid ID and concealed carry permit would be allowed to carry a concealed handgun into any state that allows residents to carry concealed firearms.

“This commonsense legislation would cut down on the layers of regulations facing law-abiding Americans who have the right to own guns and use them responsibly,” Senator Manchin said. “If we can streamline and simplify some of our rules governing gun ownership, everybody wins – especially the 65,000 West Virginians who hold concealed carry permits.”

The legislation also says an individual who is ineligible for a concealed carry permit in his or her state would not be allowed to obtain an out-of-state permit in a state with less restrictive eligibility requirements, and use that permit to carry a concealed handgun in his or her state.

The Senate bill, endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), is also sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). A similar bill passed the House last year with a vote of 272-164.

The executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislation Action, Chris Cox, praised the Senators for introducing the bill and said it is critical to protect Second Amendment rights.

“Over the last two decades, the NRA has led the way toward a brick-by-brick restoration of self-defense laws throughout the country. National Right-to-Carry reciprocity is yet another step forward for law-abiding Americans," Cox said. "Citizens aren't immune to crime when they cross state lines, so it is only reasonable that they have an effective means of protecting themselves and their loved ones while in other states. The NRA thanks Senator Mark Begich for introducing this measure in the U.S. Senate, along with Sens. Joe Manchin and Mike Crapo, and for their efforts to strengthen self-defense laws in America.”

UPDATE: From the NRA on S. 2188 which they say is a companion bill to HR 822.
Fairfax, Va. – Senate Bill 2188, an important self-defense bill that would enable millions of Right-to-Carry permit holders across the country to carry concealed firearms while traveling outside their home states, was introduced in the U.S. Senate today. S. 2188 is the companion legislation to H.R. 822, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on November 16, 2011 by a majority bipartisan vote of 272 to 154.

"Over the last two decades, the NRA has led the way toward a brick-by-brick restoration of self-defense laws throughout the country. National Right-to-Carry reciprocity is yet another step forward for law-abiding Americans," said Chris W. Cox, executive director for NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "Citizens aren't immune from crime when they cross state lines, so it is only reasonable that they have an effective means of protecting themselves and their loved ones while in other states. The introduction of S. 2188 is a significant step forward in the ongoing effort to improve self-defense laws in this country."

S. 2188, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV), would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that issues concealed firearm permits, or does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes.

This bill does not affect existing state laws. State laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within each state’s borders. S. 2188 does not create a federal licensing system or impose federal standards on state permits; rather, it requires the states to recognize each others' carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards.

As of today, 49 states have laws in place that permit their citizens to carry a concealed firearm in some form. Only Illinois and the District of Columbia deny its residents the right to carry concealed firearms outside their homes or businesses for self-defense.

Here is a link to the full text of S. 2188 thanks to Inquisitor (see comments). For comparison, here is a link to the full text of HR 822 as it passed the House of Representatives.

15 comments:

  1. The problem is that H.R. 822 has to be forced out of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary because that Committee will never put it up for a vote. Here are the members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary with their rating from the Gun Owners of America on their support of Amendment II issues.

    Committee Members [Gun Owners of America Rating]
    .............................Patrick J. Leahy [F]
    .............................Chairman, D-Vermont

    Herb Kohl [F]......................................Chuck Grassley [A-]
    D-Wisconson.......................................Ranking Member, R-Iowa

    Dianne Feinstein [F-]..........................Orrin G. Hatch [C]
    D-California........................................R-Utah

    Chuck Schumer [F-]............................Jon Kyl [A-]
    D-New York.........................................R-Arizona

    Dick Durbin [F-].................................Jeff Sessions [A-]
    D-Illinois.............................................R-Alabama

    Sheldon Whitehouse [F-].....................Lindsey Graham [B-]
    D-Rhode Island....................................R-South Carolina

    Amy Klobuchar [F]..............................John Cornyn [A]
    D-Minnesota.........................................R-Texas

    Al Franken [F]......................................Michael S. Lee [A]
    D-Minnesota.........................................R-Utah

    Christopher A. Coons [D].....................Tom Coburn [A+]
    D-Delaware...........................................R-Oklahoma

    Richard Blumenthal [F-]
    D-Connecticut

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  3. Here is a link to the text (pdf) of the Bill introduced:

    http://begich.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=a1f2afe8-70a7-49d0-9a14-b725ca554bbb

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  4. One big difference (from memory): the House Bill said the reciprocity was equivalent to the least restrictive permit offered to a resident of a state. This one says nothing along those lines. Probably a compromise to get something close to passage. Of course, this means a fight over the matter after passage.

    I haven't talked to these people in a while, but the fact two sponsors are Dems is a good thing. It could still be election-year meat for the masses, but this would be a bit in-yer-face to the Dem leadership, even for those Dems. Hopefully this means it stands a chance of a real vote and passage.

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  5. Patrick, That phrase went away during the final round in the House and was not in the Bill that was referred to the Senate. I have not, as yet, compared this version with H.R. 822 RFS (referred to Senate)

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  6. @Inquisitor: Thanks for providing the link to the text of the bill. I have put it in the update above.

    @Patrick: That phrase is not insofar as I can tell in the either HR 822 or S 2188.

    It appears to me that the only real difference between the two bills is the call for the GAO study in HR 822 RFS that is not present in S. 2188. Otherwise it is mainly a restating of the original bill in a slightly different order.

    The House bill does refer to possession or carrying of a handgun whereas the Senate bill only states carrying concealed. I don't know if that constitutes a big difference or not.

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  7. Thanks for the corrections. That's what you get working from old memory.

    Didn't the House Bill, as passed, also include a "findings" section?

    Sorry. I should be looking this stuff up but you guys make this too easy...

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    1. @Patrick, The Findings section was only in the original Bill submitted in the House. It also did not survive into the H.R. 822 (RFS)

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  8. Now we have to hold our breath until we see what committee it is assigned to. If it gets assigned to the Committee on the Judiciary then we are right back where we were with H.R. 822 (see my comment above about the membership of that committee).

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  9. @Inquisitor: That's my fear as well. However, it is the appropriate place for a bill on this subject.

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  10. There is a way to force a floor vote on H.R. 822 and/or S. 2188 in the Senate. Any Senator can add the full text of a Bill to any other Bill that is on the floor for a vote. That makes the Committee irrelevant. That is what happened in 2009 with the Thune Amendment.

    The actual vote on the Thune Amendment in 2009 was:
    YEA: 38 Republicans, 20 Democrats = 58
    NAY: 2 Republicans, 35 Democrats, 2 Independents = 39
    NOT VOTING: 3 Democrats
    But there are rumors that these votes may be misleading because once it was clear that the YEAs could not get the required 60 votes, some Democrats voted YEA just to get the pro-gun votes at home.

    In 2009 there were: 40 Republicans, 58 Democrats, and 2 Independents.
    In 2012 there are: 47 Republicans, 51 Democrats, and 2 Independents.
    With more Republicans (but still not a majority) there may be a better chance of passage (will still need 60 votes) in this Congress.

    We need ONE Senator to force H.R. 822 and/or S. 2188 out of Committee for a floor vote!

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  11. Latest Status:
    805. [112th] S.2188 : A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State.
    Sponsor: Sen Begich, Mark [AK] (introduced 3/13/2012) Cosponsors (2)
    Committees: Senate Judiciary
    Latest Major Action: 3/13/2012 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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  12. The following was posted on the Gun Owners of America website:

    “Gun Owners of America
    Two Reciprocity Bills: A Strong Bill verses a Compromise

    Great news!

    Pro-gun Senate champions John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA) have decided to stand their ground on their concealed carry reciprocity legislation, despite pressure from gun rights compromisers to weaken the bill.

    Specifically, Senators Thune and Vitter are sticking with their version of the bill, which recognizes the right to carry concealed by residents of “Vermont-style” and “Constitutional Carry” states.

    It is vitally important that your two Senators hear from you right away. Urge them NOT to support the compromise bill, and instead support the pro-gun legislation offered by Senators Thune and Vitter.
    . . .
    ACTION: Contact your Senators. Insist that they cosponsor the strong pro-gun Thune-Vitter reciprocity bill, which protects Constitutional Carry, and urge them not to support the Begich-Manchin compromise.”

    However, I can not find any record of such a Bill on the US Senate website, Sen. Thune's website or any other website that does not reference the GOA posting. The only Thune Bill I can find is the 2009 version, which, by the way, was essentially the same as the current H.R. 822 and S. 2188 Bills in that it also required the bearer to have a valid permit in their possession. I am beginning to believe that this posting is a “blind alley” in that there is no competing bill.

    I am very suspicious of that posting and, if it is false, I can not understand the purpose of such a posting unless it is designed to reduce support for S. 2188.

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  13. The real problem with this legislation is that it does nothing to help people in may issue states like NY, NJ, MD, and California. If this passes, people from out of state will be able to carry in NJ but NJ residents with non-resident CCW permits from states like Florida won't be able to carry. That is, simply put, absurd. It would have made much more sense to propose a federal CCW permit that requires a background check and training that would be good in all 50 states. People would have the option of continuing to just rely on their own state's system or obtain the federal permit if they want to be able to carry nationwide.

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  14. I can't get behind a national permit, too far removed from direct control of gun owners, too ripe for abuse, and states should in fact have the right to design their own rules for carry as long as they do not make the right essentially unexerciseable. Once they get some actual level of non-arbitrary issue (like via the Maryland ruling or what CalGuns is pushing for) it is up to the people of NJ et al to carry their own water and fix their own damn laws.

    I also don't like this bit, but it can probably be dealt with as it is a nonsensical intrusion into states' abilities to determine their own policies for recognizing their own citizen's use of out-of-state permits within their state of residence.

    "The legislation also says an individual who is ineligible for a concealed carry permit in his or her state would not be allowed to obtain an out-of-state permit in a state with less restrictive eligibility requirements, and use that permit to carry a concealed handgun in his or her state."

    If a state allows their residents to carry in that state, on an out of state permit, even when denied for their own carry permit, that's up to that state to decide. It is in no way an issue the Feds need to be sticking their nose into.

    Conversely, if folks want a permit in their own state, and one is offered that is not arbitrarily denied and otherwise meets Constitutional muster, and they can't qualify for it, and they aren't allowed to use an out-of-state permit, the fix for them is to fix their own state's laws.

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