WASHINGTON -- Gun control advocates are pressuring Congress to derail a bill that would facilitate what they see as a "race to the bottom" in terms of state-based concealed weapons legislation.
On Wednesday, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, a member of the coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns, released a video calling the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which would require states that allow concealed carrying of guns to recognize each other's permits, an "insane" policy that puts civilians and police officers "at risk."
"We cannot have a situation where Congress passes a law and the next thing you know is people are showing up in your community with hidden weapons that you, your state legislature, your mayors don't want to have happen," he said.
In a separate but related move, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence placed a full-page ad in the Boston Globe on Wednesday, urging Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to oppose any bill that would achieve nationwide concealed carry reciprocity among states.
That gun control advocates have already begun lobbying for Brown's vote says something about the politics of the issue. The House Judiciary Committee was slated to consider the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 822) last week. While it never got around to a vote, a committee spokesperson said that lawmakers would consider the bill when they returned next week. It is widely expected to be both voted out of committee to the full House of Representatives and, from there, passed by a comfortable majority (it currently has 245 co-sponsors in the Republican-controlled House).
The Senate, therefore, represents a better avenue for advocates hoping to stop the legislation. The bill dictates that a person "carrying a concealed handgun" legally under his or her state law "shall be permitted to carry a handgun subject to the same conditions or limitations that apply to residents of the State who have permits issued by the State or are otherwise lawfully allowed to do so by the State."
According to gun control advocates familiar with legislative strategy on the issue, there are two prevailing concerns when it comes to the bill's trajectory in the upper chamber. The first is that it will be attached as an amendment to a more critical, larger piece of legislation -- perhaps the appropriations bill that will soon come under consideration. The second is that a number of Democrats who back the Second Amendment will feel pressured by the gun lobby to offer their support. One advocate suggested that Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) would be a likely target. Max Croes, a spokesperson for Begich, said that he has yet to consider the concealed carry amendment.