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Congress Moves Closer to Restoring a Key Second Amendment Freedom

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thanks to the good work of millions of American gun owners and NRA members, Congress is moving closer to restoring one of our fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Ten days ago, the House Judiciary Committee considered amendments to the “National Right-to-Carry-Reciprocity Act” (H.R. 822), which would allow any person with a valid, state-issued concealed firearm permit to exercise the right to carry a firearm in any state that permits concealed carry.

Some members of the Committee tried to weaken the bill with anti-gun amendments, and I’m happy to report that every one of them failed. The committee is expected to pass the bill soon, after which it will go before the full House for a vote.

As of today, 49 states have laws in place that permit their citizens to carry a concealed firearm in some form or another. Only Illinois completely denies its residents the right to carry a concealed firearm outside their homes or businesses for self-defense, an injustice for which President Obama fought hard when he was an Illinois state senator.

In 41 of these 49 states, law-abiding citizens can carry a firearm without having to navigate an overly restrictive bureaucratic process.

The problem is that some states allow visiting permit holders from other states to exercise their right to carry, and some states do not. As you can imagine, this presents a nightmare for interstate travel, as many Americans are forced to check their Second Amendment rights, and their fundamental right to self-defense, at the state line.

The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act would solve this problem by simply requiring states that allow concealed carry to recognize each other’s permits. Nothing more.

Predictably, gun-ban organizations like the Brady Campaign and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s deceptively named “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” are doing everything they can to demonize H.R. 822, as are their allies in the anti-gun media.

First, they tried to scare Americans into thinking that H.R. 822 would unleash a new “wild west” atmosphere in the United States. This tactic fell flat because nearly every state in the nation already allows concealed carry and none of these outlandish predictions have materialized. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred.

On average, the 41 states that have the most tolerant right-to-carry laws have 22 percent lower total violent crime rates, 30 percent lower murder rates, 46 percent lower robbery rates and 12 percent lower aggravated assault rates, compared to the rest of the country. This is likely due to the fact that, as a group, citizens with permits to carry a firearm are more law-abiding than the general public.

Having failed at scaring Americans, the gun banners are now falling back on the Tenth Amendment as their main argument against H.R. 822. It’s a poorly conceived argument, as you might expect from groups that spend the majority of their time trying to trample the same “states’ rights” that they now want to hold up as sacrosanct.

The fact is the Tenth Amendment is most certainly sacrosanct – that’s why, in the 1990s, the NRA supported a successful constitutional challenge to provisions of the Brady Act that violated it. But the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act doesn’t violate the Tenth Amendment. Rather, the Act recognizes that the Second Amendment guarantees the fundamental, individual right of every law-abiding citizen to bear arms for safety when traveling.

This is an inalienable right that neither the federal government, nor any state government, may infringe upon. In addition, the 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to protect us from states that infringe on our inalienable, constitutional rights.

By the way, these are the same gun-ban groups that don’t give any consideration to states’ rights when they lobby for sweeping federal gun bans, ammunition bans, and magazine bans.

NRA has made the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act a top priority because it restores a fundamental, inalienable right guaranteed to all law-abiding Americans by the Second Amendment. All Second Amendment advocates, gun owners and pro-gun groups should be campaigning for the passage of this bill.

Also, as a general rule, no one should ever take seriously any lessons on constitutional law from groups whose sole mission is to destroy our most basic civil right guaranteed in the Constitution: The right to bear arms and defend ourselves and our loved ones…no matter which state we’re in.

Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action and serves as the organization’s chief lobbyist.

This article first appeared at



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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.