ICYMI: USCCA Op-Ed Addresses the Need for National Reciprocity for Concealed Carry Permits

WEST BEND, WI – Yesterday, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed by Tim Schmidt, president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), which provides self-defense education and training to more than 550,000 responsible American gun owners. In the last year alone, more than 2,000 new USCCA Instructors have also joined the ranks of 7,000 USCCA Certified Instructors across the country, coinciding with record U.S. gun sales in 2020.

In his op-ed, Schmidt highlights the need for passage of HR 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, introduced last month by Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (NC) to protect the right to self-protection for millions of law-abiding Americans, including members of Congress when they are traveling across state lines.

Key Excerpts:

  • “After a mob of rioters breached the doors of the U.S. Capitol, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace likely spoke for many members of Congress in describing the feeling of defenselessness. Just days before this attack on the Capitol, another newly elected congresswoman, Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, was warned by the D.C. police against trying to protect herself while working in Washington by carrying a concealed weapon.”
  • “What all of this brings to light is a lesson that should have been learned after the 2017 shooting of House Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise. It’s a reminder that our massive patchwork of state and local concealed carry laws puts not only elected officials but also all people at risk. Virginia, where the shooting happened, has reciprocity for some states’ concealed carry permits, but if members had brought their guns back and forth from D.C., they would have broken the law. As a result, none were able to protect themselves, and it was only because Scalise is a member of House leadership that Capitol Police officers were present to save lives.”
  • “Bottom line: It should never be a crime to be responsibly prepared to defend yourself in any possible situation. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, recently introduced HR 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders nationwide to arm themselves responsibly no matter where they are.”

Below is a link and full text of the Op-Ed:

Members of Congress and the public should be allowed to protect themselves at all times

Washington Examiner, February 11, 2021

By Tim Schmidt, president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association

After a mob of rioters breached the doors of the U.S. Capitol, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace likely spoke for many members of Congress in describing the feeling of defenselessness. In an interview with a local media outlet, the Republican congresswoman said, “I felt personally like a sitting duck … we didn’t have a way to protect ourselves; we didn’t have security on us; we didn’t have firearms protecting us.” Mace added that she is currently going through the process to obtain her concealed weapons permit.

Mace is not alone. Just days before this attack on the Capitol, another newly elected congresswoman, Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, was warned by the D.C. police against trying to protect herself while working in Washington by carrying a concealed weapon. In other words, if you’re walking to your home or car on a darkened street outside of your home state or facing threats from political extremists on either side, the message is, “Good luck. You’re on your own.”

What all of this brings to light is a lesson that should have been learned after the 2017 shooting of House Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise. It’s a reminder that our massive patchwork of state and local concealed carry laws puts not only elected officials but also all people at risk.

It is time for there to be national reciprocity for concealed carry permits, similar to what we already do for state driver’s licenses. Consider, for example, that if it had not been for the presence and heroism of two Capitol Police officers at that Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field on June 14, 2017, there could have been more injuries and even deaths among the members of Congress present that morning.

Virginia, where the shooting happened, has reciprocity for some states’ concealed carry permits, but if members had brought their guns back and forth from D.C., they would have broken the law. As a result, none were able to protect themselves, and it was only because Scalise is a member of House leadership that Capitol Police officers were present to save lives.

Bottom line: It should never be a crime to be responsibly prepared to defend yourself in any possible situation. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, recently introduced HR 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow legal gun owners and concealed carry permit holders nationwide to arm themselves responsibly no matter where they are.

This legislation is particularly critical when you consider that last year alone, nearly 5 million new gun owners joined the 100 million-plus gun owners already in the U.S. Demand for firearms safety and training courses has surged as well. At the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, we now have more than 540,000 members and saw more than a 100% increase last year for education and training.

Also consider that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are forgoing air travel and are instead traveling long distances by car with their families. In doing so, they are often left defenseless — as are their families — because of the legal threat of crossing state lines into a jurisdiction where their permits may not be recognized.

Responsible gun owners are people who have already proven they are willing to comply with the law by fulfilling all of the requirements associated with obtaining a firearm and a concealed carry permit. Further, no one deserves to be violently targeted simply for going to work, no matter which side of the political spectrum a lawmaker falls on. Whether it’s a family visiting relatives across state lines, a business owner traveling for work or a single mother who lives in a community bordering a neighboring state, all should have the right to protect themselves and their families at all times.

A long-overdue reform to concealed carry laws will give already law-abiding citizens, including members of Congress, the ability to protect themselves from those who would seek to do them harm. It’s time to pass national concealed carry reciprocity.