Tourists from around the country who flock to Orange County’s world-famous beaches and amusement parks are required to leave their guns at home – at least, that’s the law as it currently stands. But that could soon change, if the U.S. Congress passes HR 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. This legislation would require reciprocity among states regarding concealed-carry privileges, forcing local law enforcement to honor carry permits from all 50 states, no matter how lax those other states’ permitting standards are.
With 47 million visitors to Orange County in 2015, that’s a lot of potential guns in public places, including our notoriously gridlocked highways. (Numerous road rage-induced shootings in other states illustrate the danger of bringing a gun to every conflict.)
Letting other states’ gun permitting standards prevail in Orange County and the rest of the Golden State is a race to the bottom. Most states have much weaker standards for obtaining a license to carry than does the state of California. Twelve states – such as Arizona, Kansas and Mississippi – don’t even require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Some states allow people to get a permit despite known mental health problems, a history of domestic abuse, a conviction for stalking, and zero training.
These lax policies stand in contrast with our own. A gun owner in California must pass a background check, partake in training and safety classes, and show “good cause” for seeking to carry a concealed weapon in a public place, with local law enforcement making the final determination on issuing permits. For example, a “good cause” might be employment that involves carrying of large amounts of money to the bank at the end of each day. The “good cause” standard would still apply to Californians if HR 38 passed, by the way – just not to out-of-staters.
It is important to note that California’s gun laws, considered among the strongest in the nation, have served us well. California’s gun death rate is one of the lowest in the nation; and this isn’t unique to our state. An annual analysis by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence notes the correlation between states that have strong gun laws and states that have low gun death rates. No wonder law enforcement organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association, along with numerous others, oppose HR 38.
So, who is pushing this legislation? Two OC-based members of the House of Representatives, Rep. Mimi Walters and Rep. Ed Royce, are co-sponsors of HR 38, which has been on the wish list of the National Rifle Association for about two decades. With the recent changes in Congress and the Administration, the NRA likes its chances of passing it now more than ever.
But it’s important to remember that what’s good for the NRA might not be so good for California.
Now is the time to voice opposition to HR 38 with a simple phone call to our representatives in Congress, especially Reps. Walters and Royce. What passes for safety in Georgia and Missouri should not be imported to California.
Deborah Hernandez is a longtime resident of Orange County and a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots organization working to reduce gun violence. The organization recognizes the Second Amendment, but also supports public policies that keep guns out of dangerous hands.
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