Concealed carry reciprocity would make Texas less safe

Photo by Todd Wiseman

Texas Gun Sense strongly opposes the federal Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed by the U.S. House and defended last month in an article in TribTalk. It creates a threat to public safety by forcing states with concealed carry laws to honor permits from states with less restrictive or even non-existent concealed carry laws.

At present, 12 states do not require any permit or training to carry concealed guns in public.  Altogether 26 states do not require training to obtain a permit. This legislation would allow almost anyone from those states to carry concealed handguns in Texas regardless of whether they satisfy Texas standards.

For example, Texas requires background checks before allowing anyone to carry a handgun. A November 2017 Quinnipiac University poll shows that 95 percent of American voters overall, and 94 percent of American voters who live in households where there are guns, support universal background checks.

Currently, each state decides whether to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states. Texas recognizes concealed handgun licenses or permits issued by another state if the attorney general rules that the state or local authorities that issue the licenses or permits conduct background checks prior to doing so.

It is important to note that law enforcement organizations across the country overwhelmingly oppose federally mandated concealed carry because it would put them in a confusing and dangerous position. Under this bill, there is no way for officers to easily verify that someone is carrying lawfully because officers would be essentially required to know the permitting standards of every state.

The federal bill would also expose law enforcement to the possibility of personal litigation. If a law enforcement officer mistakenly questions a person’s legal authority to carry a concealed firearm, they can be personally sued.

Concealed carry permit holders can easily check online to determine whether their permits are recognized in other states. In addition, if a permit holder wants to travel with a gun through a state that does not recognize his or her permit, federal law allows it — so long as the owner properly locks the gun in the trunk of the car or another acceptable location .

There is no credible statistical evidence that shows that weak concealed carry laws reduce crime. In fact, the evidence suggests that permissive concealed carry laws may actually increase the frequency of some types of crime, such as assault. One recent study found that states that award concealed carry permits to anyone who meets minimum standards experience 13 to 15 percent more violent crime than states with stronger laws. The FBI report referenced does not state or imply causation between increases in gun permits and reductions in crime.

Even when a firearm is used in self-defense, which is rare, research shows that a firearm is no more likely to reduce a person’s chance of being injured during a crime than other various forms of protection. One study suggests that carrying a firearm may actually increase a victim’s risk of firearm injury during the commission of a crime.

Gyl Switzer

Executive director, Texas Gun Sense