Gun-Rights Backers to 'Go On Offense' 12/04 11:03
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Firearms enthusiasts who embraced Donald Trump's
campaign and his full-throated support of the Second Amendment are expecting a
sweeping expansion of gun rights under his administration and a Congress firmly
in Republican hands.
Among their priorities: eliminating gun-free zones at schools, reducing
requirements for background checks and ensuring that concealed carry handgun
permits from one state are recognized everywhere in the U.S.
"This is our historic moment to go on offense and to defeat the forces that
have aligned against our freedom once and for all," Wayne LaPierre, chief
executive of the National Rifle Association, said in a video after the Nov. 8
election. "The individual right to carry a firearm in defense of our lives and
our families does not and should not end at any state line."
In pursuing their agenda, the gun lobby and its GOP supporters could find
themselves at odds with two other tenets of Republican orthodoxy: states'
rights and local control.
"It would be ironic to see conservatives who long have professed a belief in
states' rights override states' choices in this area," said Erwin Chemerinsky,
dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law.
One of the NRA's paramount goals is getting Congress to pass a law requiring
all states to recognize concealed-carry handgun permits issued by any other
state. Currently, many permit holders must leave their weapons at home when
traveling or risk violating other states' laws. NRA supporters say permits
should be treated like driver's licenses.
Trump endorsed the idea during the campaign, but it is likely to face
intense opposition from Democrats in states with tight gun restrictions,
including California and the president-elect's home state of New York.
States make their own judgments on who should be allowed to have a concealed
carry permit, and their eligibility requirements vary based on an applicant's
criminal history, age and training.
Many law enforcement organizations warn the change would mean encountering
more guns during traffic stops and in tourist areas. They also say there is no
way to easily check the validity of an out-of-state firearm permit because
there is no nationwide database.
The trend among states to expand the right to carry guns is already
"creating enormous challenges on the streets for police officers who must
figure out whether or not the people they encounter are legally entitled to
have a firearm," said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities
Chemerinsky and another expert who studies gun law, UCLA professor Eugene
Volokh, said Congress probably doesn't have the constitutional authority to
order states to recognize concealed carry permits from elsewhere. But they said
Congress could encourage states to do so by threatening to withhold law
enforcement and homeland security funding.
The NRA, which spent more than $30 million supporting Trump and opposing
Hillary Clinton, also is calling for an end to gun-free zones around the
country, including at schools. The organization has argued that such areas
become targets for mass killers.
Trump pledged during the campaign to eliminate gun-free zones. To do that,
Congress would have to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1996, which
limits carrying and bans the discharge of guns within 1,000 feet of schools.
Even then, Lindsay Nichols, senior attorney with the Law Center to Prevent
Gun Violence in San Francisco, said she believes states and municipalities
would be able to create gun-free areas locally.
Nichols said that any push to repeal the federal law would draw opposition
from gun control advocates, who are better organized than they have been in
years and made gains of their own at the ballot box last month. Voters in
California, Nevada and Washington state tightened firearm laws, with California
enacting the nation's first background check requirement for buying ammunition.
Even without Congress, Trump can immediately undo President Barack Obama's
executive actions on guns. Among other things, Obama put sellers on notice last
year that they have to conduct background checks even when doing business at
gun shows or through the internet --- and that failing to do so routinely would
be a crime.
Another Obama rule that Trump could jettison would make it easier for some
health care providers to share information about mental illness with the
federal background check system. Critics worry that sharing such details could
unfairly deny gun rights to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Larry Pratt, a former executive director of Gun Owners of America, said he
is eager to see Trump overturn Obama's executive actions.
"Baby, those are going into the shredder," he said.