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Guest opinion: Robin Ball: Adopt reciprocity for concealed carry permits

I am a gun owner, gun shop owner and law-abiding citizen. I have been following the progress of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, and I am excited it will come up for a vote early next week.

More than a half-million voters have the right to carry concealed firearms in Washington state. Each has passed a background check, met all state requirements and is licensed by the Washington Department of Licensing. They earn these licenses so they can protect themselves, their families, their businesses and their homes. But if they head south on business or vacation to Oregon, Nevada, or California along with other states, then they lose that right.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers can help us fix that by voting for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. I trust she will.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers has been a staunch supporter of gun rights by law-abiding citizens. From 2007 to 2015, the most recent data available, the number of concealed permits rose by 256 percent. During that same time, the murder rate dropped 12.5 percent and the violent crime rate dropped 18 percent. Several factors contributed to those results. Suggesting that more concealed-carry permit holders means more danger is foolish at best. Rep. McMorris Rodgers knows this and knows she can do more to protect us when we leave Washington.

She’ll support this bill because it only allows people with permits issued by their state of residence to carry away from home. Anyone prohibited from owning a gun such as felons, less than honorable discharges from the military, habitual drug users or domestic abusers (and that’s just part of the list) will not be allowed to carry. Since we know bad guys don’t follow the law this law impacts only law-abiding gun owners.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers will support the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act because of people like Brian Fletcher. A father of two from North Carolina, Fletcher was called to New Jersey for utility repairs following one of the worst storms on record. After encountering local law enforcement on one of his breaks, he told the officer (as required by North Carolina law) there was a firearm in his truck.

He was arrested, posted $25,000 bail and faced five years in prison. Eventually the governor pardoned him, but this family man should never have faced so much jeopardy for merely trying to protect himself. Did crossing an invisible line into New Jersey somehow turn him into a hardened criminal? Was he a threat to society who deserved to have his rights stripped and life left in ruins? No. Making the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act the law of the land means no one will have to suffer as Brian did.

The true problem is that laws vary state to state; one allows this while the other denies that. While state residents are expected to know the law, all but the most judicious of travelers are forced to either forgo the ability to defend themselves or fall victim to fate. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act will also clear up confusion for our law enforcement officers in all states as citizens’ travel around our nation.

Washington has a rich culture of gun ownership for hunting and shooting sports. Our elected officials should trust their law abiding citizens and continue to support positive and logical changes to laws.

I choose to trust Rep. McMorris Rodgers and am confident that she will vote to pass the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.

Robin Ball is the owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop.


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