Lawmakers push national concealed carry reciprocity act

Published: Apr. 12, 2017 at 5:58 PM EDT

Some lawmakers want to dramatically alter the way states regulate who can carry concealed firearms within their borders.

For gun rights advocates, there's now a real shot for change.

"Our right to protect ourselves is one of our most basic, if not the most basic right," said Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

Pratt says he's encouraged about a new bill making its way through Congress this session. The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would force states to honor gun permits issued by other states.

“It's a good bill, that's going to save a lot of lives because people should be able to protect themselves, not only in their home state but all across the country," Pratt explained.

Pratt says it would end confusing and conflicting state laws that end up punishing law abiding gun owners.

"People would no longer be scared to travel with their firearm. It's already constitutionally protected and yet people do live in fear of that," he said.

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), a co-sponsor of the bill, says it comes with some conditions and limitations.

"The idea is that if you have a concealed permit in one state, you can also carry a concealed weapon in another state, as long as you follow that other state's laws," Rounds said.

Critics say this concealed carry push could be a difficult balancing act for Republicans, who generally advocate against federal encroachment on states’ rights.

"I think that this is certainly the paradox of this bill," said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety. "Most Republicans say states rights, states rights, states rights and resent the fact that Washington has so many regulations and determines how we live," he said.

Feinblatt says this legislation would weaken the country's gun laws.

“One size fits all doesn't make sense, it's not the tradition of this country and I don't think anybody believes that the weakest link ought to be the law of the land," he said.

The same bill has been introduced several times, but has never passed. It has strong support among Republicans and the Trump Administration. No Senate Democrats are currently backing it.