Thursday, September 22, 2011

House Bill Targets Local (Gun) Control

Conventional wisdom tells us that conservative policymakers greatly value the idea of "local control". However we increasingly see elected officials proclaiming allegiance to that philosophy while only choosing to actually practice it when it is politically convenient. The latest example of this can be seen in a bill currently making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has accurately named HR 822 as the "Packing Heat on Your Street" bill.

This extreme legislation would force states to allow the carrying of loaded, hidden guns by untrained, out-of-state visitors, even by persons legally barred from possessing guns in the state where the carrying occurs. So much for the sacred conservative idea of "local control". Many legislators that are pushing this bill have tossed aside their normal "local control" mantra and have instead adopted a big federal government one-size-fits-all approach. It is clear that this legislation is more of an appeasement of extremists like those running the NRA than it is about making good public policy.

For many years the State of Wisconsin wisely resisted allowing the concealed carrying of firearms. Unfortunately concealed carry legislation finally passed in Wisconsin earlier this year and the law becomes effective on November 1. While the new law is a major mistake and doesn't have nearly enough protections built into it at least it was only a modified version of the original. That version was even more extreme and promoted the inappropriately named idea of "constitutional carry". Essentially allowing just about everyone to carry concealed weapons anywhere without background checks, training or limits of any kind. Even though the new Wisconsin law backed away from that radical notion, that fact could be rendered mute if HR 822 is passed in Washington, DC.

The new Wisconsin concealed carry law allows local municipalities and businesses to ban concealed firearms in their buildings. They would do this by posting signs declaring that firearms are not allowed. As the November 1 deadline approaches many Wisconsin municipalities, including the state's largest , are quickly establishing those local limits. Likewise the entire University of Wisconsin system and Marquette University are moving to prevent concealed weapons in their buildings.

Businesses are also quickly learning the best way to proceed given the many questions that still remain. Advocacy groups such as the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) are asking concerned members of the public to request that businesses protect their safety by banning hidden guns in their establishments.

However, all of this local work in states like Wisconsin could be totally disregarded if the big federal government declaration that exists in HR 822 actually becomes law. While we wait for members of Congress to decide if they really want to target the allegedly cherished idea of "local control", we are certainly not helpless. The Brady Campaign has a wealth of information on this legislation and the problems that it would pose to our states and to our local communities.


This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters' mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any person who is at least 18 years old may still constitutionally carry a firearm in Wisconsin, without any license, training or background check.

No one is forced to carry a "hidden" gun, even those who will have a weapons license.

It is just as wrong for me to insist that everyone must carry a gun, as it is for you to think that no one should be allowed to do so.

Let's try letting people decide for themselves to be armed or not for a change. It works well in every other state where the citizens make their own decisions.

One more thing, you need to re-read the national carry law bill again. I am not in favor of it but it only affects people who already have a permit to carry. Those who can not qualify for a permit because they can not possess a firearm, can not possess it while in another state either.

Nick said...

Apparently you only read the Brady Summary, and not the actual bill, which is ACTUALLY called the "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011". I highly recommend you read the actual text of the bill, which you can find on GovTrack.us here.

What the law ACTUALLY says is that if you get a concealed carry permit in one state, you are then allowed to concealed carry in another state IF that state allows concealed carry. Currently, if you get a permit in one state, you also have to get permits in every other state that has concealed carry if you want to carry there. That's like saying that if you want to be married in all 50 states, you can't just get married in one state. You also have to send in marriage licenses to the other 49.

The law also EXPLICITLY states that you have to follow the concealed carry rules of the state you are in, not the rules of the state who issued you a permit.

It's less than a page... even you guys can handle that.

Cory Liebmann said...

It is clear to me that this is designed as a total race to the bottom. States that have higher concealed carry standards (mandate training etc) are forced to honor permits from states that have virtually none.

I’m certainly not alone in my concern and neither is the Brady Campaign. There are editorial boards all over the country, national and local law enforcement organizations and hundreds of local elected officials from both parties that share many of the same concerns.

I also find it enlightening that although the NRA wants to nationalize the most lax concealed carry laws in the country at the same time, based on this legislation, they apparently don’t want to nationalize a reliable quick method for law enforcement to verify all of these out-of-state permits.

By the way, even states that seem to be fairly pro-gun (like Nevada) have seen the wisdom in being able to rescind their past reciprocity agreements with other irresponsibly lax states (like Utah). It seems clear to me that this legislation would essentially take that choice away from them.

Sevesteen said...

Different states have vastly different training requirements, from none required to specifying the instructor qualifications, curriculum and time spent. Is there any evidence that mandatory training makes a difference in outcomes?

We now have a history of different recognition and reciprocity schemes, ranging from no carry allowed for nonresidents to no licences required for anyone. Is there any correlation between gun violence and license recognition?

Or is this like Chicago's nearly impossible to meet requirements for handgun ownership, obviously enacted with the primary goal of being as difficult as they think they can get away with?