Amid calls to defund the police and rising crime rates in major American cities, a new bill in Congress seeks to expand gun rights for concealed carry permit holders.
Four Republican lawmakers – Sen. Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) – introduced the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which, according to a Senate Republican staff member who is working on the legislation, would allow gun owners with concealed carry licenses in one state to travel to other states and have those permits recognized as lawful.
"The idea is that if it’s legal to lawfully concealed carry in another state—and you’re permitted to concealed carry in your state—then you can concealed carry in the other state, subject to its limitations on when/where you can carry," the staff member told Fox News.
"So, if a state doesn’t allow concealed carry at all, then you couldn’t do so under this bill," the source said. "But if the issue was that the state’s permit process was simply cumbersome to complete, this would allow you to avoid that issue."
The legislative push comes as the Supreme Court has agreed to review a New York state law that makes obtaining a concealed carry permit too burdensome. Current law in New York requires prospective concealed carry permit holders to show "proper cause." In other words, it is incumbent upon the citizen to prove to the government why it is in their personal safety interest to carry a firearm.
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King says it's time for that to end.
"We decided that we were going to try to change that and make sure that New York state residents who want a pistol permit or a concealed carry permit are given the same protections under the law that everybody else in the other 42 states are given," King said, according to New York 1.
Major cities in those very same states, meanwhile, have seen recent spikes in their violent crime rates. New York City, for example, had a 36% increase in the number of murders from March 2020 to March 2021. The Big Apple saw a 35.1% increase in grand larceny auto cases and a 30.4% increase in the number of rape cases from March 2020 to March 2021. New York City's murder rate climbed 17.9% in April 2021, compared with April 2020, while the grand larceny auto incidents soared 21.8% from April 2020 to April 2021.
Los Angeles' violent crime numbers have also soared in the last year.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, year-to-date homicides in 2021 are up 24.2% compared with the same year-to-date numbers in 2020. The number of homicides in the City of Angels so far in 2021 is 37.8% higher than by the same point in 2019.
With soaring violent crime rates, New York and Los Angeles have been two of the epicenters of the left's "defund the police" efforts. The New York City Police Department has experienced a mass exodus of officers in the last year. According to the New York Post, more than 5,300 NYPD uniformed officers retired or indicated their intent to leave the force in 2020 – a 75% spike compared with 2019.
In Los Angeles, the city council voted in July 2020 to cut $150 million from the LAPD's budget, even as the city was experiencing violent protests and looting along with many other major American cities, as KABC-TV reported.
Gun rights advocates say the combination of these cities' restrictive concealed carry permit laws and ongoing calls – and actions – to "defund the police" are what makes the type of legislation proposed by Hagerty, Inhofe, Grassley, and Cornyn necessary.
Asked by Fox News whether the legislation could further protect gun owners from danger, the Republican staffer said, "It potentially could, if the person is not a resident of the state involved and is traveling there, insofar as they won’t have to get a permit to concealed carry in the new state, provided they are permitted to concealed carry in their home state."
National Rifle Association Director of Media Relations Amy Hunter told Fox News while expressing support for the bill, "The simple fact is crime can and does strike anywhere. Criminals don't respect state boundaries. In fact, they often profile and prey on out-of-staters. That is why it is imperative that Americans be able to exercise their right to self-defense across state lines."
"This legislation should be a higher priority with lawmakers, with prisoners being furloughed and efforts to defund police departments underway. Ultimately, citizens are realizing that they are responsible for their safety," Hunter said.
Gun Owners of America spokesman Alan Rice echoed those sentiments.
"Preparing for your own self defense shouldn’t be a crime," Rice told Fox News.
"The mere act of carrying a gun shouldn’t be a crime," he added. "The great equalizer for a small-stature person…is a firearm. Firearms are the great equalizer.
"If you look at places that have these high crime rates…if you go to New York, things are really bad. It’s dangerous there. But they have all of the gun control that certain elected officials, predominantly Democrats…say we should have coast to coast."
"Do we want to export New York City’s crime rate coast to coast?" he asked. "I don’t."
Gun control groups, such as the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, say this bill would only make things worse.
Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler told Fox News, "Having a gun in the home doubles your risk of being the victim of a homicide and triples the risk of a suicide death. Research shows that when more people carry guns in public, violent crime increases by 15 percent, people successfully defend themselves with guns in less than 1% of crimes, and states with stronger gun laws have less gun violence."
"The solution to gun violence isn’t more guns," Ambler said. "There are many ways to address the rise of gun violence in America, including passing commonsense gun safety laws and better funding community violence intervention programs. Meanwhile, states that reduce permitting standards make their communities less safe."
Fox News reached out to various other gun control groups, including Every Town USA, Moms Demand Action, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, but did not hear back.