Guns Down Guns Down

This 60 Minutes Story Completely Debunked The NRA’s ‘Guns Everywhere’ Agenda

February 13, 2018

On Sunday, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a story examining the showdown over the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” a measure making its way through Congress that would significantly weaken state gun laws and allow more guns to flood into our communities.

Concealed carry reciprocity is the brainchild of the NRA, their gun lobbyist friends, and gun makers, desperate to make a few more dollars off more gun sales. It’s the logical progression of their “guns everywhere” agenda.

60 Minutes set out to talk to advocates on both sides of this debate. But in the process, it completely demolished the talking points of the gun lobby and its allies.

And rightly so!

The gun lobby argues that concealed carry reciprocity is like a driver’s license: an individual with a permit to carry a concealed weapon in one state, would be able to legally carry that weapon across state lines into another state. This sounds like it might be a reasonable idea. But as 60 Minutes began to report on this story, correspondent Steve Kroft discovered, that in practice, concealed carry reciprocity would allow people from states with loose or nonexistent permitting requirements to enter states with stronger, more robust laws, carry guns into those communities, and commit more gun crimes.

Here are the top 3 gun lobby myths about concealed carry reciprocity that Kroft busted in his report.

Right now in New York, someone who wants to carry a concealed firearm in public must be 21 years of age, go through training classes, “be of good moral character,” show a valid reason for their desire, and have permission from local law enforcement.

However, in most other states, many of those requirements don’t exist:

In practice, concealed carry reciprocity would shred strong permitting requirements and replace them with the laws gun lobbyists have forced through legislatures in states where they control the conversation. The gun lobby argues that more guns in more places — even places where the local residents and law enforcement have restricted gun use — would increase community safety. But as Kroft discovered, that’s simply not true.

We know what more guns lead to more gun violence. That’s true if you’re talking about violence between acquaintances. It’s true if you are talking about suicide. It’s true if you are talking about homicide in general. Or if you are talking about overall violent crime rates. It’s even true if you are talking about victims who themselves have guns. If you look at the big picture, it even becomes obvious that higher gun ownership rates are connected to higher gun death rates.

Law enforcement knows that too. They know that when their cities are flooded with more people carrying more guns, crime goes up. Violence goes up. The number of deaths and shootings goes up.

Just listen to former Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn describe what happened in the city he was sworn to protect after gun lobbyists gutted concealed carry laws in Wisconsin. As he points out, “every year since that law was passed in 2011, every year, non-fatal shootings have gone up, gun-related homicides have gone up, and the number of guns seized from the streets by our department has gone up.That’s what our cockamamie law has done here.”

Chief Flynn saw what happened to his city when gun laws were slashed and concealed carry became easier.  But the gun lobbyists pushing the law from their suburban offices have no such experience. They just have an overwhelming desire to force more guns on Americans, no matter the cost.

And because of that, they want you to believe that concealed carry reciprocity is a constitutionally protected right enshrined in the Second Amendment. As Robyn Thomas, the executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence argues in Kroft’s report, that’s absolutely wrong.

Indeed, as conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion of that 2008 Supreme Court decision, the Heller decision, the government has every right to restrict gun ownership under the Second Amendment.

“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” Scalia wrote.  

Even Scalia knew that “the Second Amendment is not unlimited” and that American history displayed “the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

The gun lobby’s concealed carry reciprocity flips that on its head, turning over centuries of American experience and law, and making it possible for anyone, anywhere, to carry a concealed weapon — no questions asked. It was refreshing to see 60 Minutes expose that reality.