- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2017

Gun rights activists, after an early victory getting an Obama-era Social Security rule axed, are now setting more ambitious sights on getting a national concealed carry reciprocity bill to President Trump’s desk.

The legislation would allow people who have concealed carry permits in their home states to exercise those rights in other states that allow concealed carry, provided that the permit holder abides by those other state laws as well.

Advocates of such a measure say permit holders would not have to worry about inadvertently breaking the law if they pass through a state with different restrictions from those in their home states.

All 50 states allow some kind of concealed carry, and most states have some form of out-of-state reciprocity, but the specifics vary.

“The current patchwork of state and local gun laws is confusing and can cause the most conscientious and law-abiding gun owner to run afoul of the law when they are traveling or temporarily living away from home,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s legislative lobbying arm.

But opponents say such a measure would undermine stricter controls in certain states by imposing a one-size-fits-all solution.

“One size does not fit all, and this NRA-backed bill would only make the weakest link the law of the land — gutting America’s public safety laws,” said John Feinblatt, president of the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s No. 2-ranking Republican, recently introduced such legislation in the upper chamber after Rep. Richard Hudson, North Carolina Republican, offered a similar bill in the House.

“This 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,” Mr. Cornyn said.

With Obamacare repeal and tax reform dominating attention on Capitol Hill, it’s unclear where expanding concealed carry reciprocity — a longtime goal of gun rights activists — will fall on the Republican priority list.

But many Republicans are at least welcoming the opportunity to play offense on the issue after spending much of the last administration working to beat back Democratic proposals for tougher gun control — particularly in the wake of the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

“With a groundswell of support from Americans across the country and a pro-Second Amendment president, I believe we can make national concealed carry reciprocity a reality,” Mr. Hudson said.

Mr. Trump recently signed legislation to reverse an Obama-era rule asking the Social Security administration to scour its records for people deemed mentally deficient to add their information to a national gun purchase background check system.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also has announced the reversal of an Obama-era ban on the use of lead bullets on some federal lands. Gun rights and sportsmen’s groups said the original rule was designed to discourage hunting.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican, and Rep. John R. Carter, Texas Republican, introduced legislation that would remove sound suppressors from the scope of the National Firearms Act, saying the move would promote safety and help safeguard the hearing of shooters.

Mr. Trump’s early willingness to expand gun rights stands in contrast to the approach of President Obama, who tried to take some executive steps to impose more gun controls.

However, a high-profile push to expand gun purchase background checks failed in the U.S. Senate in 2013 when the chamber was controlled by Democrats.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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