BlogOp-Eds 1/25/23

Op-Ed: The New House Majority Holds Promise of Strengthening Our Right To Self-Defense

By: Mike Lowney

Over the last several years, record numbers of Americans from all walks of life have chosen to become their family’s first line of defense by purchasing a firearm for the first time.  FBI background checks totaled 31.5 million in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for 2022, which included over 16 million gun sales. This made 2022 the third highest on record over the last 24 years, just behind 2020 and 2021.  

Perhaps more notably, the tired stereotype often portrayed in the national media of the American gun owners as a conservative, white male living in middle America has been shredded by these new numbers.  There has been a more than 40 percent increase among African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian Americans purchasing firearms over this same time period.  Furthermore, according to a survey from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), one-third of Americans purchasing their first firearm in 2021 were women and of those new buyers, 23 percent came back to purchase a second firearm.  

Every day, more Americans recognize that the police can’t be everywhere all the time and that the most efficient tool for self-defense is being a trained and responsible gun owner.  According to a recent AP-NORC poll, crime and violence are still top-of-mind priorities for voters while support for onerous gun restrictions has decreased.

Leading gun rights organizations like the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) are helping these record numbers of Americans through firearms education, training and safety classes across the country. These classes ensure that new gun owners can be prepared to protect themselves and their families at all times.  

That is why the Second Amendment community is applauding legislation recently introduced in Congress by U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) which has bipartisan support and over 140 cosponsors with that number continuing to climb every day. TheConcealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38) would finally modernize our nation’s concealed carry laws and expand Americans’ fundamental right to self-defense.

Even as record numbers of Americans are choosing to protect themselves, there is currently no federal law that would protect their right to self-defense when crossing state lines.  As a result, these responsible gun owners are often forced to choose between potentially breaking the law or leaving behind their firearm when traveling. This choice makes themselves and their families more vulnerable to danger when they’re on the road or visiting an unfamiliar area.  

It is a top priority for gun owners across America that the new majority in the House passes national concealed carry reciprocity this year.  

Doing so would also stand in sharp contrast to the near-constant attacks on Americans’ Second Amendment rights by gun-control proponents.  The Biden Administration has worked tirelessly to enact new laws that would target law-abiding gun owners over criminals who have no regard for the rule of law.  State lawmakers in areas like New York, New Jersey and California are also working to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs Bruen that overturned restrictive and subjective concealed carry requirements.  Most recently, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that will make it virtually impossible for citizens to obtain a concealed carry permit. The law requires vague and subjective criteria like someone’s ‘temperament’ or ‘character’ to determine who gets a permit, and where guns will be banned in over two dozen broadly defined ‘sensitive places.’   

Fortunately, the new Congress gaveled in with a number of pro-Second Amendment candidates who won in key midterm races.  More self-defense champions in Congress opens the door for making the right to self-protection ubiquitous across the nation, and is revitalizing opportunities for lawmakers to rectify the patchwork of onerous concealed carry laws that continues to burden America’s responsible gun owners.

There is no reason why lawful gun owners should – often unknowingly – become criminals simply for crossing state lines with their firearm.  And fixing the disarray of laws governing concealed carry is just one of many ways our representatives in Congress can work for us.

The American people want safer communities; they want to ride the subway, drive to visit a family member or walk their dog around the neighborhood without encountering lawlessness or feeling defenseless.  The new majority in the House holds the promise of strengthening our right to self-defense, and we hope that Congress will act quickly to empower the best, most effective tool we have to confront danger in our communities: the responsible gun owner and their ability to protect themselves anywhere, anytime.

Mike Lowney is the chief strategy officer at Delta Defense and executive director and chairman of the Board for U.S Concealed Carry Association for Saving Lives Super PAC.