Gun own­ers hop­ing for rec­i­proc­ity frus­trated by Congress

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LISA MARIE PANE

AT­LANTA | Gun rights ad­vo­cates en­tered the Trump era with high hopes. Af­ter years of frustration, they thought a gun-friendly pres­i­dent and Congress would ad­vance their agenda.

At the top of the list: a gun-owner’s abil­ity to bring a le­gal weapon across any state lines, a pol­icy known as rec­i­proc­ity.

But many of their fa­vorite ini­tia­tives have stalled in Wash­ing­ton, set aside as the city is closely watch­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Repub­li­cans are fo­cused on other pri­or­i­ties, es­pe­cially health care, but also keep­ing gun rights on the back burner may be the fact that be­cause they are, in fact, a heavy lift.

Congress faces a public weary of mass shoot­ings, ter­ror­ist at­tacks and ran­dom violence — most re­cently in the shad­ows of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, when a man dis­grun­tled about Mr. Trump and con­ser­va­tives opened fire on a ball­field where Repub­li­can con­gress­men were prac­tic­ing for a base­ball game, in­jur­ing five peo­ple, in­clud­ing a House Repub­li­can leader.

And while a re­cent Pew study showed Amer­i­cans pretty much split on sup­port for gun con­trol, spe­cific pro­vi­sions like keep­ing guns away from the men­tally ill or those on watch lists are ac­tu­ally quite pop­u­lar.

“Rec­i­proc­ity in par­tic­u­lar is go­ing to prove to be a harder sell,” said Robert Spitzer, chair­man of the po­lit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment at State Univer­sity of New York at Cort­land. “Think gun­tot­ing civil­ians in Times Square. It’s go­ing to be a hard sell, and the Repub­li­cans will have to squan­der what few po­lit­i­cal re­sources they have to push the bill along.”

The year started off with prom­ise for the gun in­dus­try when Congress al­most im­me­di­ately scrapped a rule cre­ated to deny peo­ple with some men­tal dis­or­ders from pur­chas­ing a firearm. On his first day in of­fice, the new in­te­rior sec­re­tary — who rode to work that day on horse­back — lifted a ban on hunt­ing with lead am­mu­ni­tion on fed­eral park land.

Gun rights groups have other key items on their agenda. Af­ter rec­i­proc­ity, a peren­nial fa­vorite is a mea­sure that would make it eas­ier to buy sup­pres­sors, com­monly re­ferred to as si­lencers. Sup­port­ers ar­gue it would not only lower noise from guns — es­pe­cially long guns used by hunters — but also add a po­ten­tial mar­ket as they see sales drop.

So what’s hap­pened? Not much. Gun con­trol ad­vo­cates say one rea­son is that they have be­come bet­ter or­ga­nized and en­er­gized over the past decade af­ter a spate of high-pro­file shoot­ings — from the near-fa­tal at­tack on then-Ari­zona Rep. Gabby Gif­fords to the killing of 26 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 20 chil­dren, at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in Con­necti­cut.

The gun in­dus­try chalks the de­lays up to the nor­mal course of busi­ness, fur­ther com­pli­cated by the splin­tered pol­i­tics tak­ing hold in Wash­ing­ton.

The gun lobby ar­gues that the cur­rent patch­work of laws for con­cealed carry per­mits turns law-abid­ing gun own­ers into po­ten­tial felons sim­ply for cross­ing a state bor­der since each state sets its own stan­dards for who can carry, in­clud­ing which state’s per­mits it will honor.

For ex­am­ple, gun own­ers who have weapons per­mits in Ge­or­gia are pro­hib­ited from bring­ing their firearms into 17 states. But for own­ers whose li­censes are from Con­necti­cut, there are two dozen states that won’t let them bring a weapon in.

Gun con­trol ad­vo­cates con­tend that rec­i­proc­ity would drop the stan­dard to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor, es­sen­tially forc­ing all states to honor the most per­mis­sive laws on the books, like those that do not re­quire back­ground checks or, in some in­stances, even a per­mit.

“What it’s re­ally about is guns ev­ery­where for any­one, no ques­tions asked,” said John Fein­blatt, pres­i­dent of Every­town for Gun Safety. “And that’s the gun lobby’s agenda.”


Gun rights ad­vo­cates saw the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump as the hope­ful be­gin­ning of a new era fol­low­ing years of frustration for Sec­ond Amend­ment lob­by­ists.

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