Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Potential Competing National Reciprocity Bill

The Gun Owners of America sent out an alert yesterday publicizing an alternative reciprocity bill to S. 2188 as introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID). This alert is showing up on a number of forums and other gun-related websites.

From the GOA Alert:
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.ThuneVitter

Such states do not require residents to obtain the government’s permission before carrying a firearm for self-protection. There are currently 17 states that have either enacted legislation in the past or have introduced “Constitutional Carry” laws in their legislatures this year.

Current law:


Considering legislation:

New Hampshire
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota (on governor’s desk)

More states are being added to the list all the time. The Thune-Vitter legislation will fully recognize gun owners’ rights in these states.

A competing bill, however, pulls the rug out from under “Constitutional Carry.” Sponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), the compromise bill still requires a government permit for reciprocity, regardless of state law.

So while the states are moving in the direction of more freedom, the Begich and Manchin bill would keep even the most pro-gun states tied to a permitting system. Why are they doing this? After all, criminals don’t get in line at the police station to get a permit. It’s the law-abiding gun owners who go through the process of proving their innocence before being “allowed” to carry a firearm.
The GOA Alert allows the reader to send a pre-written message to their senators urging them to support the Thune-Vitter bill and to oppose the "compromise" S. 2188.

There is only one problem with this - no Thune-Vitter national reciprocity bill has been introduced yet. When I first read the alert, I checked the Library of Congress' Thomas website and then I checked the official websites of both Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). None of the above sites had any information of any such bill.

To get to the bottom of this, I sent an email to GOA and was pleased to get a quick response from Erich Pratt. He said in his reply, "There is not a bill number yet.  The Senators are in the process of circulating "Dear Colleague" letters and getting cosponsors. We'll let you know as soon as we find out."

Until I see the actual text of any Thune-Vitter national reciprocity bill along with an assigned bill number, I don't plan to ask my senators to support the bill and to oppose S. 2188. It would only confuse their staff and make me look foolish. While you are free to do what you want, my advice is to take a wait and see attitude. As it is, without some slick maneuvering on the part of our allies in the Senate, no national right-to-carry reciprocity bill will get a on-the-record up-or-down vote.


  1. ANYTHING from GOA is suspect. When Texas was in the throes of getting concealed carry passed, Pratt showed up and demanded that only "vermont" style no-license carry was holy enough to pass and campaigned AGAINST our concealed carry bill. Fortunately nobody listened to him and I guess he didn't get enough contributions out of the deal and he went away. Oh, and HE had his own concealed carry license in Virginia when he was trying to keep ME from getting one. Pay attention to SAF and NRA, not the little general inGOA.

  2. @Neal: I usually do. That's why I wanted to make sure people knew really what was going on with the potential Thune-Vitter bill.

  3. @John Richardson - Thank you for following up on this. It really looked fishey for them to be telling us to tell our Senators to support a Bill that has not even been introduced and the wording of which is unknown. Sen Thune has been saying for months that he was going to submit a Bill but still hasn't done it. There were other Bills in the House that addressed this issue: H.R. 2900 that allowed out-of-state permits for in-state carry and another Bill that recognized "or otherwise allowed to carry" (but I can't find the number of that House bill). Neither of those Bills have gone anywhere and, in my opinion, do not stand a chance of passing the Senate and joint conference. At this point, everything else is just diluting the choices and chances for passage. Support S. 2188!

  4. Astonishingly, Pratt neglects to mention that every Constitutional Carry state except Vermont, which we should always note did not get theirs via legislation nor in a comparable political climate (1903 via a State Supreme Court decision), retains a permit system specifically for reciprocity purposes.

    "Alaska Carry" is what we have, for good or ill, and, if we are going to be intellectually honest and consistent in our reciprocity comparisons, pretty well parallels the rights of any given state citizen vis a vis the laws of states in which they do not reside. It's a driver's -license- and marriage -license- after all, and you can't vote in another state's political system as a non-resident.

    Yes, I understand every part of "shall not be infringed" but I'm also aware that reality isn't, and never will be, accurately reflected nor changed by bumper sticker slogans.

    The perfect is the enemy of the good...and then incrementally improvable. Let's get permit-based Nat'l Reciprocity, as that has a chance of passing, and continue to push Con Carry and universal reciprocity at the state level. Lo and behold, eventually, as more states see Con Carry for residents and visitors is a non-issue crime-wise, the two trends will meet and permit-based Nat'l Reciprocity will become redundant.

    But heaven forbid we use sound strategy and long-range planning rather than just raging like petulent children at reality. After all, it's not like the former worked for the anti's in -taking- our rights... oh, wait.

  5. This is the same bill that was voted down in the Senate a few years ago, and the reason S.B. 2188 deals with some legislator concerns. Keep in mind Schumer had plenty more votes in his pocket if he had needed them, including my own Senator Casey. If we actually want to pass something, this isn't going to go anywhere. Hell, I don't think S.B. 2188 is going to go anywhere.