Unlike many other states, California doesn’t hand out concealed carry permits for weapons willy-nilly. If the National Rifle Association and its Republican allies in Congress get their way, however, California’s high standards won’t matter much. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which the House recently passed, would allow almost anyone to walk around with a hidden gun.
Right now, each state sets its own rules for concealed carry. In California, local law enforcement screens applicants after a background check.
Other states are much more lax. In Arizona, for example, no one even needs a permit if they are legally entitled to carry. A piece of paper is available for those who want it, though.
Some states accept permits from other states, too. About half of the states allow someone with a California permit to carry. California, on the other hand, does not recognize any other state’s permit.
The NRA doesn’t like that. The organization and its supporters remain committed to the discredited narrative that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun nearby. The widespread of state-issued concealed carry permits — known as national reciprocity — has been a priority for the NRA. Under the act, if someone has a concealed carry permit from any state, every state would be required to honor it. Some states with very low standards, such as Arizona, issue nonresident permits, so if the act becomes law, anyone who wants to carry in California needs only to spend a few dollars to pick up one of those easy-to-get permits in Arizona.
People who might not pass a criminal background check here can avoid one by going to another state for their permit. Other states might not mind if domestic abusers and criminals carry weapons, but in California, we think that’s not the best idea.
Supporters of the bill liken it to the way drivers licenses are handled. Every state allows drivers from other states on their roads.
It’s not that simple, however. Reciprocity for motorists is by interstate agreement, not federal mandate. The standards for a drivers license, though they vary a little, are relatively uniform nationwide, unlike concealed carry rules. And the states don’t generally issue drivers licenses to nonresidents, enabling them to skirt home-state rules.
Republicans used to at least give lip service to federalism and states’ rights. What is best for the people of California might differ from what is best for Alabama, they argued. The residents of each state should set their own course.
Apparently that’s not so important when it comes to guns, however. The hypocrisy would be shocking if it weren’t so commonplace. Members of both major parties support states’ rights as long as the states do what they’re supposed to.
If the new standard is that what’s good for one state ought to be good for all states, maybe Congress should apply it to other licenses and permits. The West Coast has moved toward legalizing marijuana. If it’s good enough for us, it ought to be good enough for every state. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Republicans to get behind that one.