SPECIAL REPORT: Concealed carry amendment slated for debate, vote

| 7/21/2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 – Truckers with concealed carry permits may be able to protect themselves in more than just their home state if an amendment on the Senate floor moves forward on Wednesday, July 22.

Sen. John Thune, R-SD, offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act – S1390 – on Monday, July 20. The amendment is set for debate and a vote at noon EDT on Wednesday.

Thune’s amendment would allow individuals who have concealed carry permits to carry a firearm in other states that also grant concealed carry permits.

“The concealed carry permit is something most states across the country have. What my amendment simply does is it allows those who have concealed carry permits in their own states to be able to move across state lines to other states that also allow concealed carry permits,” Thune said Monday in support of his amendment on the Senate floor.

Thune’s efforts to bring states together on concealed carry permits began when, in late April, he introduced a stand-alone bill: “Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009.”

It is not uncommon for stand-alone bills on a very narrow issue to have a tougher time passing Congress and being signed into law. With that in mind, Thune made the move to advance his concealed carry legislation by adding it to the National Defense Authorization bill as an amendment.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been supportive of Thune’s efforts from the get-go.

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston sent a letter to Thune in support for his efforts in early June.

“Every day the nationwide shortage of safe and secure truck parking threatens the well being of Americans who make their living behind the wheel of commercial motor vehicles,” Johnston wrote. “Drivers who are forced to park in unsafe, unsecure areas are vulnerable to individuals seeking to do them harm, rob them of their possessions and steal the freight they are hauling.”

Those very issues are some of the examples Thune highlighted when drumming up support for his amendment on Monday.

“It does get at an issue which I think many have raised regarding people who travel across state lines all the time – truck drivers, for instance, who on any given day take a cargo load from one state across several states in this country and want to be able to protect themselves as they do so,” Thune said. “In many cases, they stay overnight in truck stops or pull over for a nap somewhere. Being able to possess a firearm that would enable them to have some level of self-protection and to deter crimes from being committed makes a lot of sense.”

OOIDA has continued its support of Thune’s efforts by issuing a Call to Action on Friday, July 17, asking members to call their Senators in support of Thune’s amendment. The Association followed up on Tuesday, July 21, issuing an Information Update alerting members to the upcoming vote and debate.

Critics of Thune’s original stand-alone bill and recent amendment say the action could possibly mean the federal government is creating a national concealed carry law. That is not the case.

“It has been suggested that somehow this pre-empts state laws. That is not the case,” Thune said on Monday. “The restrictions an individual state imposes upon concealed carry laws that have been enacted by that state must be followed by any individual who has a concealed carry permit in their own state.

“In other words, the individual who travels to that state will be required to live under the laws that are on the books in that state.”

 – By Jami Jones, senior editor