As a rather breathless Axios report by Alayna Treene begins, “The National Rifle Association is expected to score its first big legislative win of the year this week, when the House votes on a concealed-carry bill that’s likely to pass. It’s the group’s first major legislative priority to see action on the floor since President Trump took office, and it would show that the group still has clout on Capitol Hill after experiencing a series of unusual setbacks in the last few months.”
Yes, well let’s not put the cart before the proverbial horse. As we learned from Schoolhouse Rock, it’s a long, long journey from bill to law. And for the record, that “concealed carry” bill of which Axios speaks is better known in these parts as national reciprocity. It’s the radical idea that a concealed carry permit that’s issued in one state should be recognized by the other 49. Just like your drivers or marriage license.
The NRA should be able to get most of what it wants in Congress, given that Republicans control both chambers and are friendly to the group’s agenda on most issues.
Whoa, easy there, Alayna! Maybe she hasn’t noticed that so far, that Republican Senate majority has been anything but reliable supporters of the most prominent priorities that GOP legislators and President Trump campaigned on last year. Still, Ms. Treene seems to be projecting nothing but sunshine and rainbows for the NRA.
Even if the House passes the bill, the Senate is an entirely different challenge, as the measure will need to garner the required 60 votes to pass. But even there, momentum is building. Some Democratic senators who are on the ballot next year have expressed that they’re open to supporting concealed carry.
With a slim 52-48 GOP majority — not to mention being saddled with card carrying Trump-haters and fortitudinally-challenged squishes with names like Flake, Corker, McCain, Murkowsky and Collins — even passing a bill to enact National Apple Pie Day has proven to be a struggle over the last year.
But OK, let’s celebrate the small victories…passing the House would certainly be a positive step forward. As political victories go, however, the NRA already scored one if its biggest of all time back in April when Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to fill the long-empty Scalia SCOTUS seat. After going all-in to help elect Donald Trump and other Republicans, the NRA managed to avoid the judicial horror show that would have been Hillary Clinton’s appointments to all levels of the federal bench and their rulings for the next generation or more.
Back to that bill, though. National reciprocity is the most important priority of the NRA in Congress — and the most feared by members of the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex. The specter of Kansans, Texans and Michiganders blithely strolling down Broadway in Times Square or ambling through the Embarcadero while packing a piece sends shivers of dread down their statist spines. That alone should be enough reason to support it, never mind the salutary effects of spreading the gun culture and allowing Americans to legally keep and bear arms wherever their travels may take them.
So while the Hearing Protection Act, or the SHARE Act, or whatever they’re calling the latest iteration of suppressor deregulation would certainly be welcome — not least by suppressor makers — the legislative Big Kahuna for the NRA and the rest of us in the pro-Second Amendment community is and always will be national reciprocity.
What do the mouthpieces on both sides have to say?
Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the NRA: “After eight long years of playing defense and beating back the extreme gun control agenda of Barack Obama, the NRA is playing offense and scoring substantive wins for our members … Couple the progress on policy priorities with the nomination of Justice Gorsuch, Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Zinke and it’s been an extremely successful year for the Second Amendment.”
John Fleinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety: “Up and down the line this year, candidates who supported gun safety won … While the NRA is getting more extreme, the American public seems to be going in the opposite direction.”
And so it goes. Watching the legislative sausage being made isn’t pretty, but that’s why you pay us the big bucks. Stay tuned.