While the national Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act seems stalled in the U.S. Senate after last December’s passage in the House, CBS’ “60 Minutes” will take a look at the controversy Sunday evening.
Reporter Steve Kroft will be talking to Tim Schmidt, president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, along with anti-gun Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill. Also appearing, according to a CBS promotional announcement, will be Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), who sponsored H.R. 38, and Robyn Thomas of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The subject is almost toxic for the political left. With more than 16.3 million Americans licensed to carry across the country, anti-gunners seem to be fearful of armed citizens entering heretofore Second Amendment-hostile environments like New York City and nearby New Jersey. The CBS promotional quotes Vance – who has also been zealously enforcing the Big Apple knife laws – stating, “You bring that kind of firepower, even with well-intentioned people, it’s going to be extremely dangerous…I wouldn’t presume to tell the residents of West Virginia what their gun laws should be…but I don’t think they or Congress should be having West Virginia laws put on New York City.”
And that’s where anti-gun rhetoric goes south. There is nothing in the federal legislation mandating that any jurisdiction change its own gun laws to accommodate armed citizens from other places. It’s the visiting citizen who must comply with the laws of the place he/she is visiting. Here is what the legislation actually says:
“(b) This section shall not be construed to supersede or limit the laws of any State that—
“(1) permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property; or
“(2) prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park.”
Schmidt reportedly explains the problem with concealed carry now: “You can easily go from being a responsibly armed citizen, who’s 100 percent legal, to being a criminal just by crossing state lines.”
This happened to Pennsylvania resident Shaneen Allen, who was arrested on a routine traffic stop in neighboring New Jersey, jailed and living under the threat of long-term incarceration until public pressure compelled then-Gov. Chris Christie to issue a pardon. Allen and Schmidt both appeared at last year’s Gun Rights Policy Conference in Dallas, sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
In December, when the House passed H.R. 38, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb cheered.
“We’re one step closer to fully restoring the Second Amendment as it was originally intended,” he said at the time. “Now, if the Senate can follow the House lead and pass this measure, law abiding American gun owners will no longer have to fear wrongful arrest and even imprisonment for having a firearm for personal protection as they travel from state to state.”
But to the chagrin of gun owners impatient with the Senate’s slow pace – some believe Senate Republicans take gun owners for granted – the legislation hasn’t moved. Gun owners have made the difference in important elections over the past two decades, taking Congress away from Democrats in 1994 and keeping it that way through most of the Clinton and Bush administrations, and helping the GOP regain control of Capitol Hill and the White House in 2016. Many in the firearms community feel that it is time for payback, to “Make the Second Amendment great again,” as Gottlieb has put it.
For decades, say rights activists, the Second Amendment has been treated with indifference and even hostility – a “second class right” – by the political establishment and judiciary. That was, until the 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald Supreme Court rulings. Those decisions affirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, but that the high court didn’t flesh that out enough. The court has been reluctant to take a concealed carry case, to define “right to carry.”
Perhaps Sunday’s “60 Minutes” installment will motivate the Senate to take action.