Once again there appears to be a well-orchestrated push in Washington for a national concealed-carry law, which is actually new wine in old bottles since it was initially introduced by Senator Larry Craig during the Clinton years. Craig was a Board member of the NRA, a position which he eventually relinquished when he was arrested in an airport men’s room for trying (he claimed) to look for his keys after they fell on the floor. But Craig’s legacy as the NRA champion was then assumed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who has once again introduced the national CCW bill and this time believes he will get it to President Obama’s desk. The bill failed by 3 votes in 2013 and no doubt the Bomber will veto the bill if it slides into the Oval office this time around. But maybe we’re only two years away from a Republican sitting in the White House and maybe the ol’ Wild West will finally become law of the land.
The problem for the pro-gun supporters of this legislation is that they need 7 votes which they can gain if they can pick up some votes from Democrats like Joe Manchin, who voted for the bill in 2013. The opponents of the measure are also hard at work and are aiming most of their fire at Republicans like Pat Toomey who voted for expanded background checks after Sandy Hook. No doubt representatives of both the NRA and the Bloomberg machine are letting Senators on both sides know that they will be scoring the votes, and no doubt some Senators, regardless of their personal feelings on the issue, will be swayed by whether their vote will help or hurt them when they face the voters in 2016.
I think the argument about national CCW, while it appears to be a hot-button issue on both sides, is really much ado about very little, notwithstanding the lengthy commentary by Gail Collins in today’s New York Times. Gail makes the point that legal and training requirements for CCW vary significantly from state to state. Therefore, walking around with a bulge in your pocket which doesn’t mean you were glad to see her might require a completely different level of proficiency or legal fitness in New York than what is required in Alabama or Tennessee. Unfortunately Gail then goes off the deep end when she evokes the image of people “roaming the streets waving out-of-state gun permits,” but she’s right-on in assuming that this type of legislative battle can do wonders for increasing the membership rolls of the NRA.
The reason I think national CCW issue is overblown is that nobody has ever attempted to figure out whether the issuance of more concealed-carry permits means that more people are actually walking around armed. Supporters of the bill claim that arming civilians is an important measure in the fight against violent crime. But studies that link crime decline to increased CCW are so full of holes that anyone who really believes that armed civilians make the country safer can be excused for also believing that Martians landed in Area 51. Opponents of the bill raise the spectre of an increase in gun homicides by people with CCW who, like the murderous dope in Chapel Hill, shot and killed three Muslim-American students with a legally-carried gun. But the Violence Policy Center’s study of CCW-legal shootings notwithstanding, the number of intentional, fatal gun injuries committed by someone with a concealed-carry license is still, statistically speaking, a rare event.
If nothing else, a national CCW law would require the development of a nationwide network that would allow law enforcement in one state to check the validity of CCW permits issued somewhere else. Stop to think about it, wouldn’t such a system be akin to registering everyone with CCW, hence nothing more than another form of national gun control? I don’t notice the Constitutional Carry gang worrying about that one at all.
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