How Congress got a gun advocate to agree with a gun control activist for once

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., is pushing for gun permits to be recognized across state lines.
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., is pushing for gun permits to be recognized across state lines. AP

As U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson’s H.R. 38 (“national concealed handgun reciprocity”) lurches through Congress, gun control advocates wail it will severely threaten public safety and put law enforcement at risk.

Hand-wringing is unwarranted. “Shall issue” concealed handgun laws – wherein law-abiding applicants cannot be denied permits – swept through 41 states over three decades, all without the mayhem predicted by opponents. Moreover, because North Carolina already honors all out-of-state permits, the only impact here will be enhancing North Carolinians’ self-protection elsewhere.

Meanwhile, U.S. violent crime has dropped by 44 percent since 1994, with corresponding drops in murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery. Since passing concealed carry in 1995, North Carolina violent crime has also plummeted by 44 percent.

While skeptics will argue correlation does not imply causation, our decline mirrors predictions by controlled, multi-variate studies from John R. Lott and others, who found concealed handgun laws deter violent crime.

Lest you doubt reciprocity’s necessity, consider Shaneen Allen, the otherwise law-abiding single mom from Philadelphia who blundered across New Jersey’s border with a handgun carried on her Pennsylvania permit. Arrested, denied pretrial intervention and facing three years in prison, she’d be incarcerated now had not gun rights organizations helped secure her pardon.

But leave it to Republicans to sell out principles. During House debate, GOP leadership merged Hudson’s bill with the Fix NICS Act of 2017 (H.R. 4477). That bipartisan gun control bill, citing the Air Force failure to report crimes to the National Instant Background Check System which might theoretically have prevented the Sutherland Springs killings, gives an incentive for additional reporting to NICS.

This unholy union split gun advocates. Some argue the bill creates no new prohibited classes of people, while others plausibly predict gun purchases denied even for infractions like unpaid traffic tickets. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus, recommends opposing any bill containing “fix NICS.”

Paul Valone

Those who deny “fix NICS” will ensnare thousands of citizens should recall the “NICS Improvement Act of 2007.” Passed after Virginia Tech’s tragedy, it too created no new classes of prohibited persons, yet cost 260,381 veterans their gun rights (without due process of law) after the Veterans Administration reported them to NICS just for having a fiduciary trustee assigned to them.

Worse, Barack Obama ordered the Social Security Administration to report 4.2 million recipients who designated “representative payees” as persons effectively disqualified from getting a gun – a scheme reversed only by Donald Trump.

Although the Senate Judiciary Committee gave hearings to “fix NICS,” anti-gun Senate Democrats have enough votes to filibuster national reciprocity. Consequently, the conference committee tasked with resolving differences between the House version (with reciprocity) and the Senate version (without) will likely enact only “fix NICS,” after which Republicans will lament, “It’s the best we could do.”

Equally alarmed that gun control advocates’ precious “fix NICS” has been polluted by national reciprocity, Everytown for Gun Safety president John Feinblatt told USA Today the bill is now “too dangerous to pass.” For once, I concur: Republicans’ monstrous “Jekyll and Hyde” gun bill must die.

Valone is president of Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun-rights advocacy group.