The Briefcase Diaries

Carrying Concealed Firearms: A Pending Federal Gun Bill of Significant Importance After the Las Vegas Shootings

     The Las Vegas massacre on October 1, 2017 — perpetrated by lone gunman Stephen Paddock — has been widely dubbed the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Opening fire on a large crowd of people attending a music festival on the Vegas strip, Paddock murdered 58 people, and also seriously injured an astounding 489 persons.[1] In the days after, much has been discussed for Congress to pass new laws permanently banning “bump stocks.”[2] Yet, there is another piece of pending federal legislation which has not been addressed in the Vegas aftermath.

     The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (“CCRA”) — proposed earlier this year[3] —“would allow legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders nationwide to [] arm themselves no matter where they are.”[4] In essence, federal law would thereby permit individuals “to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state [which] allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.”[5] A summary of the law follows:

A qualified individual must: (1) be eligible to possess, transport, or receive a firearm under federal law; (2) carry a valid photo identification document; and (3) carry a valid concealed carry permit issued by, or be eligible to carry a concealed firearm in, his or her state of residence.

Additionally, [] a qualified individual who lawfully carries or possesses a concealed handgun in another state: (1) is not subject to the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm in a school zone, and (2) may carry or possess the concealed handgun in federally owned lands that are open to the public.[6]

As of now, the proposed legislation has seemingly stalled; and the bill was last referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.[7]

    The State of New York has traditionally had the nation’s most rigorous gun restrictions.[8] And there has been unease among New York officials about the potential dangers if the CCRA was enacted. Throughout the course of 2017, New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. has expressed serious opposition to Congress passing the CCRA for several reasons.[9]

     First, DA Vance emphasized that as a federal law, the CCRA would entitle individuals to freely conceal and carry loaded guns “across state borders,” “into New York or anyplace else, regardless of local law”[10] — which could be a serious concern in a large city such as New York populated with over 8.5 million residents.[11] That number does not include visitors or tourists. Second, DA Vance notes that while each state is rightful in legislating and enforcing its on gun laws, the CCRA would supersede New York state’s “restrictive concealed-weapons permitting system and force New York to honor concealed-carry firearms privileges issued [by] other states”; even though other states maintain much laxer standards.[12] DA Vance highlights the relevant statistics: “Eleven states grant concealed-carry privileges to individuals who have not undergone any safety training.[13] Twenty states grant permits to people who have been convicted of violent crimes. And 12 states do not require any kind of permit or license to carry a concealed firearm.”[14]

     Third, DA Vance stresses that New York City has experienced a steady reduction in violent crimes and murders since 1990.[15] Consequently, law enforcement in New York is highly apprehensive about the CCRA being enacted. Thus, the single most critical issue for law enforcement with passage of the CCRA is overwhelmingly public safety.[16] DA Vance mentions:

As the No. 1 tourism destination in the United States, [New York] [C]ity receives more than 46 million adult visitors from other states each year, and 6.5% of American adults have a concealed handgun permit. Passage of CCRA could unleash countless new concealed weapons on the streets of New York. That could mean more shootings, more victims[,] and more tragedies in America’s safest big city.[17]

     Despite potential public safety concerns, passage of the CCRA is still being advocated strongly by gun lobbyists. “[T]he CCRA already has more than 200 sponsors[18] in the House of Representatives, and the National Rifle Association [“NRA”] has called passing the bill its No. 1 priority.”[19]

     Lastly, DA Vance stresses that the CCRA inherently delves into federalism issues — where the federal mandates may conflict with, or unduly hamper state rights: “The CCRA tramples on [State’s] rights. If for no other reason, Congress should reject this unprecedented exercise of federal power.”[20] Ultimately, DA Vance maintains that a federal law requiring states to recognize out-of-state conceal and carry gun permits infringes on the sovereign rights of individual states.

     Whatever the politics and reasons for supporting or opposing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act bill, the recent deadly shootings in Las Vegas will certainly spark debate in reforming gun legislation. And no matter one’s own personal views, everyone should be cognizant and well-informed of the CCRA, and what the law encompasses. Given the current social and political climate, it will be interesting to see whether the CCRA bill persists in the House, and the manner in which the CCRA could affect the governmental branches of New York and its citizens.

[1] See Robert Valencia, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING UPDATE: GUNMAN ‘SPENT DECADES ACQUIRING WEAPONS AND AMMO’, Newsweek (Oct. 4, 2017, 10:15 PM), http://www.newsweek.com/las-vegas-shooting-update-gunman-spent-decades-acquiring-weapons-and-ammo-678264.
[2] See Tobin Harshaw, Vegas, Bump Stocks and the NRA: Is the Gun Debate Changing?, Bloomberg (Oct. 7, 2017, 8:00 AM), https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-10-07/vegas-bump-stocks-and-the-nra-is-the-gun-debate-changing.
[3] Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, H.R. Res. 38, 115th Cong.  (introduced Jan. 3, 2017). The bill was introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R–Texas) and Congressman Richard Hudson (R–N.C.). See id.
[4] Tim Schmidt, Time to pass National Concealed Carry Reciprocity, The Hill (July 4, 2017, 4:30 PM), http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/340729-time-to-pass-national-concealed-carry-reciprocity.
[5] Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, H.R. Res. 38, 115th Cong.  (introduced Jan. 3, 2017) (providing summary), https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/38?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22concealed+carry+reciprocity+act%22%5D%7D (last visited Oct. 9, 2017).
[6] Id. (emphasis added).
[7] See id.
[8] Jessica Chasmar, Manhattan prosecutor raises specter of terrorists in argument against concealed carry reciprocity, Wash. Times (June 26, 2017), http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/26/cy-vance-manhattan-da-says-concealed-carry-recipro/.
[9] Defeating the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, The New York County District Attorney’s Office, http://manhattanda.org/ccra (last visited Oct. 9, 2017).
[10] Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Manhattan DA: This bill could turn your city into the Wild West, CNN (Aug. 23, 2017, 10:14 AM), http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/23/opinions/concealed-carry-act-opinion-vance/index.html.
[11] NYC Dep’t of City Planning, Current and Projected Populations: Current Estimates of New York City’s Population for July 2016, http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/data-maps/nyc-population/current-future-populations.page (last visited Oct. 9, 2017).
[12] DA Vance, supra note 10.
[13] Id. (emphasis added); See State-by-State Danger of Overriding Concealed Carry Laws, Everytown Research (Feb. 8, 2017), https://everytownresearch.org/state-by-state-danger-of-overriding-concealed-carry-laws/.
[14] DA Vance, supra note 10; See Ralph Bartholdt, Law Allowing Concealed Firearms With No Permit a Year Old, U.S. News (July 1, 2017, 2:06 PM), https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/idaho/articles/2017-07-01/law-allowing-concealed-firearms-with-no-permit-a-year-old.
[15] See id.; NYPD CompStat Unit, CompStat Report Vol. 24 No. 18, N.Y. Police Dep’t., http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_statistics/cs-en-us-city.pdf (last visited Oct. 9, 2017).
[16] See DA Vance, supra note 10.
[17] DA Vance, supra note 10; NYC IS NUMBER ONE TOURIST DESTINATION IN US, TRIPADVISOR SAYS, NY1 News (Mar. 23, 2017, 8:00 PM), http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2017/03/23/nyc-is-number-one-tourist-destination-in-us–tripadvisor-says.html; NYC Travel & Tourism Visitation Statistics, NYC & Company, http://www.nycandcompany.org/research/nyc-statistics-page (last visited Oct. 9, 2017); John R. Lott, Jr., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2017, Crime Prevention Research Center (July 18, 2017).
[18] See Concealed Carry Reciprocity Now Has 200 Backers in Congress!, Gun Owners of Amer. (June 21, 2017), http://gunowners.org/alert062117.htm.
[19] DA Vance, supra note 10; See National Journal: Q+A With Chris Cox, NRA-ILA Inst. for Leg. Action (June 7, 2017), https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170607/qplusa-with-chris-cox.
[20] DA Vance, supra note 10.