February 12th marked an important day in the ever so controversial issue of concealed arm carrying, as Senator John Cornyn introduced a new bill: the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. These Texas gun laws would allow legal gun owners from all US states which allow concealed carry privileges to legally carry their weapons across the United States. It’s really unfortunate that Shaneen Allen didn’t have access to a law like this. More than likely, Senator Cornyn was thinking about her case when he first drafted the bill.
Current Texas gun laws allow citizens to carry concealed firearms under the CHL (Concealed Handgun License), which is issued to eligible applicants on a “shall-issue” basis. As for Texas gun laws open carry regulations, the state does not forbid it as long as it is not done in a manner “calculated to cause alarm”. And while the state does have full reciprocity agreements with 30 other states and recognizes the carry permits issued in an additional 11 US states, Sen. Cornyn believes that the nation should begin to treat concealed firearm carry permits as it does driver’s licenses. “So, for example, if you have a driver’s license in Texas, you can drive in New York, in Utah, and other places subject to the laws in those states,” the senator said during a press release.
Cornyn’s bill hopes to federally regulate concealed carry laws so that gun owners can legally carry their weapons all across the US (the bill would, in effect, mandate all US states to recognize out-of-state weapon carry permits). States would be required to respect other state’s laws for weapon carrying, so, if a citizen would normally be barred from acquiring a handgun in New York, he or she would still be allowed to carry one if the home state allows that person to legally acquire one.
Gun advocacy groups welcome the initiative, explaining that it is often confusing for law-abiding citizens to adhere to each state’s regulations. The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity act of 2015 would only make it safer for gun owners to travel without them having to constantly worry about where better to store their weapon. According to Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, even the most well-informed and conscientious of carry permit holders can become confused given the current patchwork of local and state laws. As a result, law-abiding weapon owners can easily run afoul of the law when attempting to exercise their self-protection right even when travelling out-of-state.
Sen. John Cornyn’s initiative is supported by the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, who underline that the bill would by no means override a state’s legislation for governing when, where or how carriage is awarded. The bill, the NRA explains, would only allow the carry permits issued by other states to be honored nationwide. “Importantly, if under federal law a person is prohibited from carrying a firearm, they will continue to be prohibited from doing so under this bill,” the NRA noted.
Such a measure has, of course, sparked widespread fear over the fact that the bill would, in theory, be dangerous as it creates a common denominator across the United States, allowing the weakest state requirements for carrying a handgun to become the law of the entire nation.
Throughout the United States, it is a state’s responsibility to regulate how residents and US citizens are allowed to carry concealed firearms. Because no federal laws address this issue, opponents of the bill underline the fact that Cornyn’s initiative would interfere with stricter state and local laws currently in place. “Federally imposed concealed carry interferes with states’ fundamental right to determine who is too dangerous to carry hidden, loaded guns in public,” John Feinblatt, Everytown for Gun Safety insists.
Does the Texas Gun Laws Open Carry Bill Stand a Chance?
New York Senator Chuck Schumer vowed to fight the initiative “tooth and nail”, claiming that the bill would represent a nightmare for law enforcement officers. Yet Schumer is by no means the only opponent of the bill. Claiming that Cornyn’s initiative would present a danger to the community, Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, warns citizens that the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would only bring nationwide carriage requirements to “abhorrently low standards”. Brady Campaign senior national policy director, Brian Malte, as well as Everytown for Gun Safety, former mayor Bloomberg’s group, speak of Sen. Cornyn’s bill as “evil and dangerous”, insisting that it would effectively override public safety laws.
Yet, Sen. Cornyn does not err when claiming that the concealed-carry reciprocity bill upholds not only the Second Amendment but also states’ rights. And as a result of the support that the senator has deceived from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, South Dakota’s John Thune and David Vitter (R-Louisiana), the senator’s bill has become a bipartisan endeavor.
Back in 2013, Senator Cornyn failed to pass the same bill in April because of a Democratic majority in the Senate, however, now that both houses are under Republican control, Sen. Cornyn’s initiative might stand better odds. Opponents claim that President Obama will most likely veto the legislation.