Is Now The Time To Talk National Reciprocity?

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Four years ago, gun rights advocates were in a pretty glorious position. We had Congress on our side, an ally in the White House, and public support pretty much right behind us. One of the things on a lot of people’s wish list, including my own, was national reciprocity.

The idea that we could have had a law where every state was required to recognize every other state’s permits was almost impossible to comprehend. It would allow some in may-issue states to bypass the onerous restrictions and get out-of-state permits from other places, thus allowing them to carry.

It would make it so people with a permit in any state could carry in another state, much like how drivers’ licenses are recognized.

But, Congress dragged their heals and it never happened.

Now, the tides of turned and we’re on the other side of all that stuff. Which is why I found it odd that Tim Schmidt of USCCA wrote an op-ed calling for national reciprocity.

Two new anti-Second Amendment bills that will soon receive a vote on the House floor are raising red flags for millions of Americans who feel their natural-born right to protect themselves and their families is increasingly being encroached upon. H.R. 8, the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021,” would create a mandate that background checks be performed on all gun sales, including firearm purchases made privately, whether it be online or at gun shows.  This would essentially criminalize the private transfer of firearms. And H.R. 1446, the “Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021,” would extend the period federal authorities have to complete a background check before a gun sale can go through.

Bills like these do effectively nothing to stop crime or keep weapons out of the hands of criminals; instead, they hinder law-abiding Americans’ natural-born right to protect themselves and their families. Creating more narrow pathways with longer wait times to obtain a firearm means precious time that’s being lost when Americans want to protect themselves.

If Congress and the Administration want to help boost Americans’ safety, they should get serious about passing H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which will help law-abiding gun owners better protect themselves and their families at all times. President Biden has already made calls for gun reform that are being echoed by some members of Congress. The U.S. Concealed Carry Association has been outspoken in opposition to this, most recently in a letter to President Biden criticizing his calls for more “common-sense” but ultimately ineffective gun-control laws.

Now, obviously, I agree with Schmidt. National reciprocity would save more lives than any gun control bill ever could.

My question was, is now really the time to have that discussion? At first blush, I planned on writing that it wasn’t. Instead, I was going to say we need to focus on the fights we have now, not on pushing legislation that hasn’t got a hope in hell of actually passing.

But I’m kind of glad I didn’t.

See, there are political reasons to start talking about national reciprocity that go beyond the safety reasons Schmidt outlines.

Right now, we’re playing defense. That’s where we’re having to put a lot of our efforts for obvious reasons. Yet I don’t think simply saying “no” to everything is really a winning strategy. It’s too easy for anti-gun activists to paint inaction as a desire to see more people hurt.

By pushing for national reciprocity and talking about the life-saving benefits of such legislation, we counter that. Even if the bill doesn’t have a chance of passing now, it may help push voters to back future candidates, allowing us to take back Congress in 2022.

Plus, as noted, the opposition can’t claim our side isn’t offering solutions. They will just have to argue they disagree with our solutions. Then we can have a real debate.

We’ve been playing defense, but it’s really time to play a little offense, too. Even if it doesn’t pass, even if it never passes, it’s time to fight back with our own solutions.

So yeah, it’s time to talk about it and so much more.