The House of Representatives bill HR 38 - better recognized as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act - passed House vote Wednesday, moving it a step closer to becoming law. The bill would allow gun owners licensed to carry a concealed firearm in their home state to do so even in other jurisdictions that prohibit it for their local residents. As with any gun-related topic, there’s no consensus.
“A lot of people in the Firearms Community don’t seem to realize that 'National Reciprocity' is a conversation to be had with its own potential set of Compromises,” said firearms trainer Rob Pincus.
Pincus works at the Ancient City Shooting Range in St. Augustine and has been a personal defense educator for more than 20 years. As he fires off rapid-fire rounds at the range’s firing line, it’s easy to imagine Pincus supports concealed carry reciprocity, and he does. He just doesn’t like the bill.
“Right now, rushing ahead just to get this win emotionally may not be the best thing in the long term for people interested in national right-to-carry,” Pincus said.
His concern is that the NRA-backed bill contains bells and whistles that do more harm than good by providing too much government overreach. One has to do with federally established training mandates applying equally everywhere in the country.
With many comparing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity to the interstate recognition of drivers’ licenses and marriage licenses, Pincus contends that training should be a matter of gun industry self-governance at local levels.
“What do you have to do to get a marriage license? How many of those marriages don’t and successfully? Drivers’ licenses - who are the people most at risk to get into accidents and fatal accidents? Brand new drivers,” Pincus said. “State-level mandated training itself evidently not enough.”
Another point of concern to Pincus and others is what’s called the “Fix NICS” add-on measure, designed to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“Fix NICS” comes in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at a Sutherland Springs, Texas church. Gun control activists contend that the gunman would not have been able to buy weapons had the Air Force properly reported that his court martial had been driven by domestic violence.
In his article, Pincus says “Fix NICS” - just like the training component - gives the government more reach than it can properly handle.
“It spends over half $1 billion to collect more names to include in a list of people who will never be allowed to own a firearm,” the article reads.
The article adds, “It compels administrative agencies, not just course, to adjudicate your Second Amendment rights.”
Another concern, albeit from someone who vehemently opposes Concealed Carry Reciprocity, is that the legislation would help domestic violence offenders skirt the law.
“[They] could go to another state where the regulations are much more lax, and get a concealed carry permit,” said Patti Brigham, co-chair of the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.
St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar not only acknowledged that concern, he echoed it.
“Most of our homicides in the last 15 years, I think I can say with a lot of confidence, have been domestic related,” Shoar said Wednesday. “And so that’s an area we need to keep an eye on and make sure there isn’t a loophole.”
For his part, though, Shoar supports the legislation as long as the aforementioned concern is addressed. He said the consistency created by nationwide reciprocity would help police do their jobs.
“Sometimes for the police officer or the deputy sheriff at three in the morning, it’s hard to distinguish who has reciprocity or not,” Shoar said, painting the hypothetical picture of a wee-hours traffic stop in which the offender is from out-of-state and carrying a gun.
Shoar and Pincus also share another opinion reminiscent of the age-old quip that people, not guns, are the ones who do the killing.
“The idea that someone who’s willing to hurt someone with a firearm is suddenly going to magically follow all the rest of the laws around it doesn’t make sense,” Pincus said.
“Guys that are out there committing crimes of violence, they don’t care what we are talking about in the state capital or in Washington, D.C.,” Shoar said.