With concealed weapons now legal in all 50 states, the National Rifle Association’s focus at this week’s annual meeting is less about enacting additional state protections than on making sure the permits already issued still apply when the gun owners travel across the country.
The nation’s largest gun-rights group, which officially opens its meeting of about 70,000 people today in Indianapolis, wants Congress to require that concealed-weapons permits issued in one state be recognized everywhere, even when the local requirements differ. Advocates say the effort would eliminate a patchwork of state-specific regulations that lead to carriers unwittingly violating the law when traveling.
“Right now it takes some legal research to find out where you are or are not legal depending on where you are,” said Guy Relford, an attorney who has sued communities for violating an Indiana law that bars local gun regulations. “I don’t think that’s right.”
Opponents fear the measure would allow more lenient gun regulations to trump stricter ones when permit holders travel across state lines.
“It’s a race to the bottom,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s taking the lowest standards.”
The push for reciprocity comes as the gun-rights lobby is arguably stronger than ever before, with more than 5 million dues-paying members.