Editorial: Senate comes close — concealed strong-arming
With 46 states now requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun, about 5 million people in the United States have signed up ó a great many of them since the election of Barack Obama prompted fears that gun laws would become more restrictive.
Wednesday the Senate came very close to approving a measure that actually would have made gun laws more permissive, allowing the holder of a concealed weapon permit in one state to carry legally in 48 states. Though a majority favored the measure, 58-39, it needed 60 votes to be added as an amendment to a defense bill.
For that, states with the stiffest gun laws will be grateful. They will not be required to recognize permits from states whose requirements are minimal.
North Carolina is somewhere in the middle. For example, 3,469 people have received concealed gun permits through the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Under state law, each one of them had to complete a firearms safety class, be a resident of the state, be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. The Sheriff’s Office had to check with local mental health services ó Piedmont Behavioral, Rowan Regional Medical Center and DayMark ó to make sure they hadn’t undergone treatment for mental illness. For veterans, there’s also a check of military background.
Last month, 108 people applied to the Sheriff’s Office for permits, and four were denied.
North Carolina has reciprocal agreements with 32 other states to recognize each other’s concealed weapon permits. Some states recognize permits from only a handful of other states, and some states don’t recognize any permit but their own. The defeated proposal would have changed that radically, strong-arming those states into recognizing permits they never would have issued.
Though the National Rifle Association would argue otherwise, individual states have done a good job of fashioning concealed weapons laws that fit their culture and population, and they should be able to apply those laws to visitors when they cross the state line.
It’s not as though a North Carolinian with a concealed weapon permit can’t carry a gun out of the state. North Carolina has reciprocity with all the surrounding states and many more ó states that found the N.C. requirements acceptable and vice versa.
That seems like a fair system. As Wednesday’s vote shows, though, pro-gun forces think otherwise and are building momentum to overrule state preferences.