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Mainstream Media Misrepresents NRA's Position on Right-to-Carry Permits

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mainstream Media Misrepresents NRA's Position on Right-to-Carry Permits

There is an ongoing debate as to the severity of the decline in the modern attention span. However, in a world pervaded by 140 character messages and trivial clickbait articles, few would argue that many are now consuming information more rapidly and in smaller pieces. In this environment, an article’s headline has become increasingly important, taking an outsized role in conveying the information within.

Therefore, when a headline contains misleading information, whether due to political motivation or simple inaccuracy, it is not without consequence.

Take the following, 

“The NRA is pushing to eliminate concealed carry permits in NC and across the country” – The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), June 20, 2017.

“Bill to nix N. Carolina's concealed-carry permit causes rift” – The Associated Press, June 6, 2017.

“Bill would drop concealed carry permits” – The Richmond County Daily Journal (Rockingham, N.C.), June 5, 2017.

“Senate votes to eliminate concealed gun permits” - The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.), April 18, 2017.

“Legislature debates guns; committee approves proposed bill to eliminate concealed-carry permit” - The Telegraph (Nashua, N.H.), January 11, 2017.

These headlines give readers the impression that NRA-ILA and state lawmakers are working to abolish Right-to-Carry permits.   

This is false.

NRA-ILA supports shall-issue Right-to-Carry permitting. NRA-ILA also supports providing law-abiding individuals with additional options to exercise their Right-to-Carry, including legislation to allow such persons to carry without a permit; often called permitless or constitutional carry.

These positions are not mutually exclusive. In each state where NRA-ILA has worked with lawmakers to enact permitless/constitutional carry legislation, the Right-to-Carry permitting regime has been kept in place. In states such as Idaho, and Mississippi, in recent years NRA-ILA has helped to strengthen the existing Right-to-Carry permit structures by passing legislation providing for enhanced carry permits that allow the holder to carry in additional locations, and worked to pass legislation that recognizes the Right-to-Carry without a permit.

The only state with permitless/constitutional carry and no Right-to-Carry permitting regime is Vermont. This arrangement is unique to the Green Mountain State and due to the fact that Vermonters have never imposed a state restriction on the right of a law-abiding individuals to carry for self-defense.

A major reason NRA-ILA is adamant about preserving existing permitting systems, even in states that have embraced permitless/constitutional carry, is that permit holders enjoy benefits that extend well beyond carrying a concealed firearm within their home state.

Right-to-Carry Reciprocity

Increasing Right-to-Carry reciprocity among the states is a vital NRA-ILA policy goal. NRA is currently working to enact National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity legislation that would require a given state to recognize the Right-to-Carry permits issued by all other states. In a recent interview with the National Journal, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox called National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity NRA-ILA’s “No.1 legislative priority.”

(We are closer than ever to making national reciprocity a reality, but we need your help to succeed!  Please contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to cosponsor and support passage of S.446-- the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017-- in the Senate, and H.R.38 -- the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017-- in the House. You can contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative by phone at (202) 224-3121, or click here to Take Action.)  

In the meantime, NRA-ILA is hard at work to facilitate and encourage unilateral and bilateral Right-to-Carry recognition between the states. Moreover, in states like Virginia, NRA has worked to pass legislation providing outright recognition for Right-to-Carry permits from all other jurisdictions.

Eliminating a state’s Right-to-Carry permitting structure would throw the existing reciprocity framework into disarray, strip current carry permit holders of this important protection, and deprive gun owners in a permitless/constitutional carry state the ability to use a permit in order to carry throughout other portions of the country. Once again, NRA is for expanding options and opportunities for those who seek to exercise their Right-to-Carry, not eliminating them.

NICS Exempt Permits

Many state Right-to-Carry permits exempt the holder from having to submit themselves to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) when they purchase a firearm.

18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3) provides that a Federal Firearms Licensee (gun dealer) can forego performing a NICS check on a prospective firearms transferee if, 

(i) such other person has presented to the licensee a permit that—

(I) allows such other person to possess or acquire a firearm; and

(II) was issued not more than 5 years earlier by the State in which the transfer is to take place; and

(ii) the law of the State provides that such a permit is to be issued only after an authorized government official has verified that the information available to such official does not indicate that possession of a firearm by such other person would be in violation of law;

ATF is tasked with determining whether a state’s Right-to-Carry permit qualifies as NICS exempt, and publishes its decisions in their Permanent Brady Permit Chart. Unfortunately, ATF ambiguously interprets this statutory exemption and adds their own cryptic requirements that a permit must meet in order to qualify.

Nonetheless, NRA-ILA has encouraged ATF to recognize state Right-to-Carry permits that meet 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3)’s discrete statutory requirements as NICS exempt. Moreover, NRA-ILA has worked with states to navigate ATF’s criteria in order to provide this important benefit to their Right-to-Carry permit holders.

At present, 27 states have Right-to-Carry permits that qualify under ATF’s criteria as NICS exempt. This total includes eight permitless/constitutional states.

NICS exemption provides prospective gun purchasers with a more efficient, and in some case vital, means of acquiring firearms. Roughly 11 percent of NICS checks are delayed for additional review, while only about 1.3 percent of the delayed transactions result in a denial. This means that a significant portion of prospective gun purchasers are delayed from acquiring a firearm through no fault of their own.

Moreover, due to the nature of the NICS, an individual who experiences one delay is likely to experience a delay each time they try to purchase a firearm. For people who experience repeated delays, the FBI operates the Voluntary Appeal File process, through which a gun owner consents to register their personal information with the FBI in order to expedite the NICS check procedure. Some gun owners have reported delays in acquiring firearms even after complying with this onerous scheme.

Obtaining a NICS exempt Right-to-Carry permit is often a more attractive option for those seeking to extricate themselves from this federal bureaucratic entanglement.

The record could not be clearer: NRA is not pushing to eliminate Right-to-Carry permits.

As with all media falsehoods, gun rights supporters should do their best to call out misleading headlines before they can poison the public debate on these important issues.

It is yet unclear as to whether the offending headlines were motivated by anti-gun bias or were merely the result of ignorance. Such determinations are difficult, as experience has shown the two to be highly correlated and equally prevalent in the mainstream media.

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NRA ILA

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.