As I sit down to write this article, it’s mid-December. On the home front, it’s one of the greatest times of the year—sandwiched between cherishing the times enjoyed with family and friends during Thanksgiving and looking forward to more of the same for Christmas and the New Year.
Whatever holidays you enjoy, I hope you spent them with those you love.
Professionally, on the other hand, my emotions are a little mixed. I’m caught between the end of the 2022 election cycle—as well as most legislative cycles—and the beginning of the 2023 legislative cycle. I love the challenges this job presents and the accomplishments with which I am involved, and I truly enjoy working with my dedicated staff and countless Second Amendment supporters to achieve those accomplishments.
On the other hand, I hate the fact that we have to do it.
We shouldn’t have to fight so hard to protect our right to keep and bear arms. One day, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, I hope to look back and be able to say that, thanks to our efforts today, tomorrow and in the coming weeks, months and years, the Second Amendment is as secure as it was when it was originally enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
So, here’s a glimpse at some of what your NRA intends to do in the coming year as part of our plan to reach such a laudable goal. The focus here is at the state level, and I will be reporting on federal efforts in the future.
Besides opposing draconian anti-gun laws—like Joe Biden’s current agenda of banning most, if not all, semi-automatic firearms—NRA has probably gained the most attention over the last several decades for promoting laws that recognize law-abiding citizens should not be restricted from carrying firearms in public. It just seems so obvious that there should be few obstructions to being able to lawfully defend yourself and others should you be faced with unexpected violence.
And we don’t intend to slow down on that front.
Most who have been following the issue agree that the real push to secure the right to self-defense outside the home began after Florida passed its “shall-issue” concealed-carry permit law in 1987. Before Florida’s law, there were 10 states with Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws that recognized the right to carry concealed handguns when away from home—six of which could be classified as “shall-issue,” where the government must issue a permit or prove why one should not be issued.
Florida’s law became the model for similar laws adopted in 33 other states.
From the “shall-issue” movement arose Constitutional Carry, which recognized that law-abiding gun owners should not be required to seek government permission—as in, apply for a carry permit—before they can lawfully carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense. Today, half of our states have enacted Constitutional Carry, with Georgia becoming number 25 in April 2022.
This year, we will take the push to expand Constitutional Carry to more states. We hope to bring the RTC movement full circle with Florida, but also have plans for Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota (improving the current system to include nonresidents) and South Carolina. None of these states will be easy battles, and other states may arise to present opportunities for expansion, so be sure to follow our regular legislative updates to see what you can do to help.
Besides Constitutional Carry, we’ll also be working on other improvements to RTC laws.
The vast majority of states have Constitutional Carry or a “shall-issue” permit system, but there are still unnecessary restrictions on where one may go with a firearm when lawfully carrying outside the home. Some states have an automatic prohibition on carrying a lawfully-possessed firearm into any church or other house of worship, rather than allowing those in charge of the property to decide their own policies. Some states won’t allow firearms on public transportation or on certain public property. These types of “Gun Free Zones” do nothing to deter violent criminals, and in some cases (like houses of worship), strip property owners of their right to control their own property.
We intend to work on expanding where one may lawfully carry a firearm for personal protection in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota and Utah. Again, we will look for opportunities to do the same in other states that need such reform, should those opportunities arise.
One of the more “innovative” strategies from anti-gun extremists over the last several years has been using the financial sector as an avenue of attack to threaten the Second Amendment. There was the Obama/Biden administration’s Operation Choke Point use of federal regulators—including the Department of Justice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)—using their authorities to intimidate banks into shunning lawful but politically disfavored industries. Among those industries were firearms and ammunition retailers, many of which lost the access to capital and credit they needed to do business.
While Operation Choke Point was formally repudiated and terminated under the Trump administration, President Biden has nominated the same FDIC Chairman as during Operation Choke Point, Martin J. Gruenberg, to again serve as FDIC Chairman.
Furthermore, we’ve been reporting about gun-control advocates hatching a plan to use a newly created merchant category code (MCC) for credit-card purchases that would allow banks to surveil purchases at gun shops and report what they consider “suspicious activity” to authorities.
For 2023, NRA intends to work at the state level to do everything possible to pass legislation prohibiting the use of the financial sector to discriminate against the firearms industry. So far, we anticipate concerted efforts in Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia, but that list will likely grow.
This list of state legislative priorities is by no means comprehensive, as there are countless areas where we need to, can and will strive to make improvements when it comes to the Second Amendment. Legislative strategies often need to be developed as specific state legislatures progress through their respective sessions. My ILA staff and I will keep updating you on our progress, along with new developments, over the coming weeks and months.
We’ll also keep reporting, both to you and legislatures, about one simple fact: It is fundamentally—not to mention factually—wrong to keep blaming law-abiding gun owners for our nation’s crime problems.
But that is the basic premise behind virtually every firearm-related legislative proposal put forward by anti-gun extremists.
Most of us know that criminals, by definition, don’t obey the law. Imposing a new regulation or restriction on a particular type of firearm, firearm accessory or ammunition—or on where any of them may be carried—means nothing to the career, violent criminals that are driving the recent national spike in violent crime.
There are countless areas where we need to, can and will strive to make improvements when it comes to the Second Amendment.
Sure, you and I will obey the law—although it may be begrudgingly, especially when we know certain laws are unconstitutional—but the lawless predators who target honest citizens simply don’t care. When we see a law that we don’t like, we work to change it—either through the legislative process or the courts. When criminals see a law they don’t like, they just ignore it.
Sadly—albeit unsurprisingly—the anti-gun community keeps pushing the disproven claim that more gun-control laws would reduce crime. And most in the media promote this ridiculous message. In effect, they are blaming law-abiding gun owners for violent crime.
During the push for RTC laws I wrote about earlier, the anti-gun crowd, along with their media supporters, claimed allowing more law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense would lead to a rise in crime. Florida was labeled “The Gunshine State,” and the hysterical claimed that anywhere RTC laws were passed would become the “Wild West.”
Of course, the opposite happened. During the surge of RTC laws in the 1990s and 2000s, crime went down. RTC permit holders proved to be more law-abiding than the average citizen.
Today, we see the same, tired tactics. Violent crime has risen, and anti-gun extremists are blaming law-abiding gun owners and pushing for laws to clamp down on freedoms protected by the Second Amendment.
There are proven, reliable ways to address violent crime, and I discuss that in detail in my monthly column in this very issue. None of those responses involve blaming law-abiding gun owners.
Nonetheless, expect renewed calls for more gun control to “fight” crime. Semi-automatic rifles—one of our nation’s most popular class of firearms—will continue to be vilified, in spite of the fact that rifles of any kind are used in but a tiny fraction of violent crimes. RTC laws will be assailed, even though such laws are proven successes, are specifically designed for the law-abiding and have helped stop millions of violent crimes.
As I wrote earlier, there are many aspects of my job that are great. The people I work with are unparalleled—and that includes the millions of dedicated NRA members—and there’s little more gratifying than sharing in the success of a significant court ruling that recognizes the Second Amendment, watching a governor sign critical pro-gun legislation into law or seeing a proven defender of the Second Amendment sworn into office.
Then there’s the one part I truly dislike—the fact that you and I have to work so hard to defend a right protected by our Constitution.
I look forward to a year where we can do far more of the former, so that future generations won’t be burdened with the latter.