Gun-rights back­ers to “go on o≠ense”

But some laws di∞cult to square with states’ rights.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Ryan J. Fo­ley

iowa city, iowa» Firearms en­thu­si­asts who em­braced Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign and his fullthroated sup­port of the Se­cond Amend­ment are ex­pect­ing a sweep­ing ex­pan­sion of gun rights un­der his ad­min­is­tra­tion and a Congress firmly in Repub­li­can hands.

Among their pri­or­i­ties: elim­i­nat­ing gun-free zones at schools, re­duc­ing re­quire­ments for back­ground checks and en­sur­ing that con­cealed­carry hand­gun per­mits from one state are rec­og­nized ev­ery­where in the U.S.

“This is our his­toric mo­ment to go on of­fense and to de­feat the forces that have aligned against our free­dom once and for all,” Wayne LaPierre, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, said in a video af­ter the Nov. 8 elec­tion. “The in­di­vid­ual right to carry a firearm in de­fense of our lives and our fam­i­lies does not and should not end at any state line.”

In pur­su­ing their agenda, the gun lobby and its GOP sup­port­ers could find them­selves at odds with two other tenets of Repub­li­can or­tho­doxy: states’ rights and lo­cal con­trol.

“It would be ironic to see con­ser­va­tives who long have pro­fessed a be­lief in states’ rights over­ride states’ choices in this area,” said Er­win Che­merin­sky, dean of the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­ni­aIrvine School of Law.

One of the NRA’s para­mount goals is get­ting Congress to pass a law re­quir­ing all states to rec­og­nize con­cealed-carry hand­gun per­mits is­sued by any other state. Cur­rently, many per­mit hold­ers must leave their weapons at home when trav­el­ing or risk vi­o­lat­ing other states’ laws. NRA sup­port­ers say per­mits should be treated like driver’s li­censes.

Trump en­dorsed the idea dur­ing the cam­paign, but it is likely to face in­tense op­po­si­tion from Democrats in states with tight gun restric­tions, in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia and the pres­i­dent-elect’s home state of New York.

States make their own judg­ments on who should be al­lowed to have a con­cealed-carry per­mit, and their el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments vary based on an ap­pli­cant’s crim­i­nal his­tory, age and train­ing.

Many law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions warn the change would mean en­coun­ter­ing more guns dur­ing traf­fic stops and in tourist ar­eas. They also say there is no way to check the va­lid­ity of an out-of-state firearm per­mit eas­ily be­cause there is no na­tion­wide data­base.

The trend among states to ex­pand the right to carry guns is “cre­at­ing enor­mous chal­lenges on the streets for police of­fi­cers who must fig­ure out whether or not the peo­ple they en­counter are legally en­ti­tled to have a firearm,” said Dar­rel Stephens, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Ma­jor Cities Chiefs As­so­ci­a­tion.

Che­merin­sky and an­other ex­pert who stud­ies gun law, UCLA pro­fes­sor Eu­gene Volokh, said Congress prob­a­bly doesn’t have the con­sti­tu­tional author­ity to or­der states to rec­og­nize con­cealed-carry per­mits from else­where. But they said Congress could en­cour­age states to do so by threat­en­ing to with­hold law en­force­ment and Home­land Se­cu­rity fund­ing.

The NRA, which spent more than $30 mil­lion sup­port­ing Trump and op­pos­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, also is calling for an end to gun­free zones around the coun­try, in­clud­ing at schools. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has ar­gued that such ar­eas be­come tar­gets for mass killers.

Trump pledged dur­ing the cam­paign to elim­i­nate gun-free zones. To do that, Congress would have to re­peal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1996, which lim­its car­ry­ing and bans the dis­charge of guns within 1,000 feet of schools.

Even then, Lind­say Ni­chols, se­nior at­tor­ney with the Law Cen­ter to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence in San Fran­cisco, said she be­lieves states and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties would be able to cre­ate gun-free ar­eas lo­cally.

Ni­chols said that any push to re­peal the fed­eral law would draw op­po­si­tion from gun con­trol ad­vo­cates, who are bet­ter or­ga­nized than they have been in years and made gains of their own at the bal­lot box last month. Vot­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, Ne­vada and Wash­ing­ton state tight­ened firearm laws, with Cal­i­for­nia en­act­ing the na­tion’s first back­ground check re­quire­ment for buy­ing am­mu­ni­tion.

Even with­out Congress, Trump can undo Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions on guns im­me­di­ately. Among other things, Obama put sellers on no­tice last year that they have to con­duct back­ground checks even when do­ing busi­ness at gun shows or through the in­ter­net — and that fail­ing to do so rou­tinely would be a crime.

Larry Pratt, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica, said he is ea­ger to see Trump over­turn Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions.

“Baby, those are go­ing into the shred­der,” he said.

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