I grew up in New Jersey, so I know first hand just how abusive the state is to gun owners. As soon as I finished school and had a chance to move away, I did.
Last week, an Senior Citizen learned the hard way that the rights protected by the Second Amendment are not honored in New Jersey. 69-year-old Peter E. Barnes (shown above) was pulled over on Route 206 by police, just six miles away from the Pennsylvania border.
The officer approached the vehicle and asked Barnes if he had any guns in the vehicle. The man responded that he kept a handgun behind his driver's seat for protection. That is completely legal in Pennsylvania. He is allowed to carry a personal defense pistol in Pennsylvania. But in New Jersey, that is a felony. Barnes didn't know that.
Police put Barnes in handcuffs for illegally carrying a handgun and then searched his car. They found two rifles and another two pistols. Barnes had gone to the shooting range the day before and forgot to take the firearms out of his car before he drove into New Jersey. Even worse, the rifle, though legal in his home state of Pennsylvania, was considered an "assault weapon" under New Jersey law. And the ammunition in his pistols -- hollow points -- are classified as DumDum rounds and illegal to possess outside the home.
This man wasn't dangerous. He wasn't trying to hurt anyone. He was pulled over for failing to use his turn signal just ten minutes from the Pennsylvania border and because he admitted to carrying a handgun across state lines, he now faces a combined 28 years in prison for his "crimes."
It is disgusting that New Jersey would seek an almost three-decade prison sentence against a non-violent 69-year-old man.
But it is also disgusting because there is a bill in Congress that would have prevented this, but the GOP refuses to push it through!
New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Gun owners are not allowed to bring their guns out into public, let alone carry them for self-defense. It is functionally impossible for law abiding citizens to get a license to carry, and New Jersey does not honor any out-of-state carry permits. The right to keep and bear arms simply doesn't apply in the Garden State.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would fix this by forcing anti-gun states New Jersey, New York, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maryland to accept out-of-state carry permits. If someone like Peter Barnes is allowed to carry a firearm in one state, then he would be allowed to carry in all fifty states.
In other words, states would have to treat carry permits the way they treat driver's licenses. Imagine being forced to take a driving test in every state you want to drive through. States understand that this would be complete madness, so they honor out-of-state drivers licenses. Drivers still have to know the laws in states they drive through, but they can't be arrested for simply having a license from another state.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would apply this same logic to carry permits. Gun owners would still be responsible for knowing the self-defense laws in the states they visit, but their permit itself would be valid nationwide.
If Congress had passed this law last year, Peter Barnes likely wouldn't be facing down a 28-year prison sentence. The only reason that the police officer was allowed to search his car was because it was illegal for Barnes to carry a handgun across state lines. Without that justification, Barnes would have been sent on his way.
This is the cost of Congressional inaction... Every month, we hear new stories of Americans who get caught up in the country's patchwork system of reciprocity laws. Mitch McConnell has sat on this bill for two and a half years, and refused to schedule the vote. The GOP claims that the "timing isn't right" to protect Americans' rights...
The Supreme Court has already ruled that when the 2nd Amendment says Americans have a right to bear arms, that means that we have a right to carry firearms. But right now, it is impossible for any civilian to carry a firearm in all fifty states. I have three concealed carry permits from three different states, and even that only gets me reciprocity in 36 states...
Right now, Republicans are debating a new gun control package. They are committed to passing something.
We are going to continue to push back against the worst gun control proposals being pushed by the Democrats and GOP, but today we want to go on offense as well.
Our goal today is to bombard Congress with a quarter million FaxBlasts today demanding that they pass the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act into law.
Please, join the fight and help us force this through!
We get a lot of emails in saying that the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would violate states' rights. That simply isn't true. No state has the authority to violate their residents' rights.
The 14th Amendment was ratified specifically for that purpose. Not only are states prohibited from violating people's rights, liberties, and freedoms, but the 14th Amendment gives Congress the power and responsibility to force States to honor and respect their residents' rights.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is common sense. Not only would it give law-abiding Americans the ability to carry nationwide, but it would also create a pathway to residents in states like New Jersey and California to exercise their carry rights using other states' non-resident carry permits. If this bill passes, states would no longer be allowed to block law-abiding Americans from carrying firearms for self-defense.
As I said, our goal today is to bombard Congress with a quarter million FaxBlasts demanding that they pass this bill.
But we can't do it alone. We need your help!