Amendment could allow legal owners to take their concealed weapons across state lines
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WASHINGTON – Texas' U.S. senators are backing a measure that would allow licensed Texans to carry their concealed weapons anywhere in the country, though some gun-control advocates warn it will undermine Texas' own concealed-handgun law.
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote today on an amendment that would require states to allow visitors to carry lawfully concealed firearms across state lines.
"Over 300,000 Texans have been trained and issued a concealed handgun license, and this legislation will allow them to travel to states with comparable laws without questioning whether or not their Texas-issued permit is honored," said Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a cosponsor of the amendment. Aides to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, also a Republican, said she also supported the provision.
Under the measure, being offered by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., visitors would have to abide by state laws where a concealed handgun is allowed.
Daniel Vice, senior attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the issue is not so much about where the guns can be brought, but who has them.
"If you can carry a gun in your home state, you can carry it concealed in Texas, even if it wouldn't be otherwise," Vice said.
For instance, individuals who have committed certain violent misdemeanors who wouldn't be issued a concealed handgun permit in Texas could nevertheless carry a concealed weapon, so long as they're from a state with looser laws, Vice said.
He said Texas has some of the strongest training requirements in the country for gun carrying.
"It's really an assault on states' rights because it's overriding the judgment of the Texas Legislature," Vice said.
Gun-rights proponents, including the National Rifle Association, contend the measure helps bring parity in gun laws to protect the fundamental rights of U.S. citizens. An aide to Gov. Rick Perry said the Thune provision would protect Second Amendment rights "while also respecting states' rights."
Jerry Patterson, Texas' land commissioner who wrote the state's conceal and carry laws as a state lawmaker in the 1990s, supports the provision, which would be attached to a defense bill. He said critics just don't support reciprocity or conceal and carry rights.
"If detractors of this proposal are using the argument where the minimum standards aren't high enough, they should merely propose that reciprocity exists among the states with certain minimal requirements," Patterson said.
Texas may have comparatively strong training requirements, Patterson said, but all states require background checks and refuse to issue gun licenses to felons. He said gun permits should be given the same reciprocity as drivers' licenses.
Texas has reciprocity agreements with 27 states to recognize concealed handgun licenses. It recognizes concealed handgun licenses from 12 other states that do not, in turn, recognize Texas licenses.
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