Editorial Board

Concealed Carry for All, Like It or Not

A new bill would let gun-movement ideology run over states’ rights.

Hide and seek.

Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

It can be useful and efficient when one state recognizes a license or certification issued by another, as lawyers and bear hunters can attest. When it comes to permits to carry concealed weapons, however, this rationale doesn’t apply.

It’s worth examining why. According to Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act this week, the bill “strengthens both the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and the power of states to implement laws best-suited for the folks who live there.”

The bill does indeed strengthen the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves using a firearm. Unfortunately, it also strengthens the right of many others who are not law-abiding, and who are more prone to aggression than protection. For example, stalkers, drunk drivers and abusive partners can carry a concealed weapon in some states. Other states prohibit them from doing so. Under Cornyn’s bill, those people would be able to take their concealed, loaded weapons anywhere.

In effect, the bill would adopt as a national standard the lowest common denominator of state regulations. Every state would be required to honor concealed-carry permits issued by any other state, no matter how shabby (Hello, Florida!) or nonexistent (11 states require no permit) its process is.

There is nowhere near sufficient evidence to conclude that concealed-carry policies make anyone safer, although there is intriguing evidence that it may have the opposite effect. (Why is it that politicians who make broad, unsubstantiated claims about the safety of firearms are so often adamantly opposed to funding research that might buttress such claims?)

Cornyn’s assertion about “law-abiding citizens” protecting themselves is ironclad, however, compared with his statement about states’ rights. Any reading of the legislation must conclude that it forces states and localities to cede control over their communities to distant states. California, with 39 million people and more than a dozen major cities, would be required to adopt the laissez-faire concealed carry standards of Wyoming, with fewer than a million people. Cornyn’s concern for “laws best-suited for the folks who live there” is hard to credit.

Concealed carry reciprocity isn’t about constitutional rights. It certainly isn’t about creating laws “best-suited” to localities. It’s about the gun movement’s relentless effort to militarize every corner of American culture and civic life -- without a shred of credible evidence that it makes Americans safe.

    --Editors: Francis Wilkinson, Michael Newman.

    To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net .

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