Much has been made recently over Congressman Thomas Massie’s “calling out” of Speaker of the House of Representatives’ Paul Ryan refusing to move concealed carry reciprocity legislation forward. The problem is that while Congressman Massie is being publicly critical of Speaker Ryan’s inaction on reciprocity, Massie himself has yet to lend his name as a co-sponsor to H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.
Introduced in the House on January 3, 2017 by Representative Richard Hudson of North Carolina, H.R. 38 has languished in committee since January 12th. And while the influence of the Speaker must certainly play a part, one has to question why Massie has not added his name to the list of 212 co-sponsors of the bill.
It should also be noted that Massie is quite proud of his 2nd Amendment bona fides, going so far as to establish a Congressional 2nd Amendment Caucus, which he co-chairs with Senator Rand Paul (who has also not signed on as co-sponsor to the companion Senate bill for national concealed carry reciprocity).
So why, exactly, is Congressman Massie complaining so loudly of Speaker Ryan’s inaction, when it appears that he has not done all that he can do to advance the cause of national reciprocity? I have contacted Congressman Massie’s staff, and the only explanation I have received is a very non-committal and generic comment about concern for states’ rights. I personally find that position to be pretty weak sauce. The right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, reserved for the people in the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. It is the Constitution itself which gives the federal government the jurisdiction to tell a state that it may not infringe on individual rights. We wouldn’t say that a state has the right to deny visitors the ability to go to church, read a book, or write a blog post…so why would we accept that a state has the right to deny a visitor the ability to carry a defensive firearm? In my book, individual civil rights trump states’ rights every time.
I have also engaged in some interesting conversations with folks who also express fear that H.R. 38 could be used as the “camel’s nose in the tent,” providing an opening for federal oversight of concealed carry. First…if you hadn’t already noticed…the federal government is already quite engaged in the oversight of firearms, in many different ways. Second, if they wanted to pass a law creating a federal concealed carry program, with all kinds of federal requirements and restrictions…they’d just do it. If they had the desire and the political power to pull it off, they wouldn’t need H.R. 38 to do so.
As it stands now, the bill simply creates a requirement that any person who may legally carry in one state may carry in all of them. Just as your driver’s license is recognized in all 50 states, so would your concealed carry permit. What’s more, it only requires that you be legal to carry in your home state. This means that even if you live in a “constitutional carry” state, that right to carry travels with you throughout the US. On top of that, your permit doesn’t even have to be resident permit. This means that this provision virtually neuters “may issue” permitting schemes in states like New York, New Jersey, California, and the like. For instance, a California resident could simply get a non-resident Utah permit, and then not only could they carry while traveling in other states, they could also carry within California.
We have an opportunity here to actually advance the individual right to bear arms on a national level, but for fear of the boogeyman of states’ rights and of federal restrictions which do not exist in this bill. For fear of imaginary threats…which we have the political and legislative power to prevent…we are getting in our own way. If Congressman Massie wants to expand the right to bear arms for all Americans, it might be better if he were to stop wagging his finger at Paul Ryan, put his money where his mouth is, and co-sponsor H.R. 38 and be part of the solution.
Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone on the Black Man With A Gun App. It’s free and you can follow Kenn Blanchard on social media with it.