Last week’s passage of the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act by the U.S. House of Representatives was roundly cheered by most of the organizations you would expect, like the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. But a national group you’ve probably never heard of that represents some 150,000 independent contrators counts itself as one of the country’s biggest supporters of extending the reciprocity rights of those with valid concealed-carry handgun permits to all 49 states that currently have a permit system.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional truck drivers, is an ardent advocate for H.R. 822, which would require states that “currently permit people to carry concealed firearms to recognize other states’ valid concealed carry permits.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, H.R. 822 passed the U.S. House with a decidedly bipartisan vote of 272 to 154. A Senate version has yet to be introduced.
“This bill will go a long ways toward ensuring the safety of truckers when they are out on the road,” said Ryan Bowley, director of legislative affairs for OOIDA. “The strong bipartisan support is a clear sign that Second Amendment rights shouldn’t stop at a state line, something that is well known to truckers.”
When you think of it, there are few professions that would be more affected by instituting handgun reciprocity nationwide than for the men and women who move our goods across the country, primarily utilizing the Interstate Highway System.
Land Line magazine, the official publication of OOIDA, reports that as the national economy continues to struggle, more long-haul truckers are becoming victims of crime.
Gary Slider, who maintains the Handgun Laws website, told Land Line that criminals target truckers because of their valuable loads and the knowledge that they often carry large sums of cash. Criminals also know many truck drivers are unarmed because of differing city, county and state laws, which makes it nearly impossible for them to legally comply with concealed-carry laws from state to state.
Supporters of H.R. 822 stress that the bill does not affect a state’s concealed-carry law,and restrictions on where firearms could be carried within each state would remain in effect.
“The right to defend yourself and your loved ones from criminals is fundamental, and it should not be extinguished when you cross a state border,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who introduced H.R. 822, along with Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C.