Should Concealed Carry Permits Be Like Driver’s Licenses?

April 20, 2015
In April 2013, the Senate famously rejected an amendment to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 to expand background checks to most gun sales (often known as the Manchin-Toomey amendment), in large part due to concerns about a “national gun registry” and infringement on states’ laws. States’ rights remain a central feature of the conversation about gun violence, and have been raised again with the introduction of a new law. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 (S. 498), which would require all states with concealed carry programs (which, as of 2014, all states have) to honor concealed carry permits from other states, essentially creating driver’s license-like reciprocity between states. At first glance, this bill seems like a way to unify national gun laws. Yet, concealed carry programs vary wildly from state to state: some states have permit-holders undergo intensive training processes, while others have “permit-less carry,” or concealed carry programs that do not require a permit. Outside of concealed carry, states such as Texas are considering requiring its public colleges and universities to allow guns on campus, whereas Oregon is considering mandatory background checks for all gun purchases. Yet on a national level, these variations mean that if the Cornyn bill passes, states with strict concealed carry programs, such as Oregon, could face the prospect of people a short drive over from Wyoming and carrying guns on their streets with no training on how to use them. As such, the bill has sparked a lot of debate. Advocates of the bill, such as the NRA, point out that many states already have reciprocity agreements, whereas opponents have critiqued the proposed law as an assault on a state’s right to keep its citizens safe. The Talmud inspires us to take action to prevent gun violence: “He who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). As we monitor the debate over concealed carry, you can take action to prevent instances of gun violence by telling Congress to expand gun violence protections for domestic abuse victims. Learn more about our work on gun violence prevention here. Learn more about our campaign, “Don’t Stand Idly By,” here.

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