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The Gun Guy: Why Sen. Joe Donnelly must vote in favor of National Reciprocity

A vote against the Second Amendment could be fatal to Hoosier Democrat's reelection bid in 2018

Photo Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would require all 50 states and the District of Columbia to recognize the "licenses to carry" or "concealed carry permits" issued by every other state.  When the bill passed the House of Representatives last week by a fairly wide margin, 231-198, the focus shifted to the Senate and the likelihood that supporters will be able to garner the sixty votes necessary to call the bill to a vote.  Assuming all 52 Republicans in the Senate vote in favor of the bill, it will need eight votes from Democrats to succeed in the Senate and land on President Trump's desk.  

In looking at the likely sources for those eight Democratic votes, Second Amendment supporters are looking hard at the nine Democrats in the Senate who are both up for reelection in 2018 and represent "red states" that President Trump won in 2016 - and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana is a conspicuous member of that group.  The other eight senators on the list are Bill Nelson (FL), Claire McCaskill (MO), Tom Tester (MT), Heidi Heidkamp (ND), Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Joe Manchin (WV) and Tammy Baldwin (WI).  Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, will undoubtedly be communicating the importance of these senators' role in getting National Reciprocity through the Senate to the voters in their home states - the same voters who elected President Trump in 2016. 

Here in Indiana, President Trump won the election over Hillary Clinton by a wide margin - nineteen percent.  And Hoosier voters were influenced significantly by the stark difference between the two presidential candidates on Second Amendment issues, including the enduring effect of the successful candidate's ability to nominate justices to the U.S. Supreme Court over the next four to eight years.  

The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill would extend the Constitutionally-protected right of over 800,000 Hoosiers to "bear arms" in the eighteen states that do not currently recognize our License to Carry Handgun.  As a Democrat who has successfully portrayed himself as a moderate and often touts his positive rating from the NRA, Sen. Donnelly is undoubtedly aware of the devastating effect that a vote against the Second Amendment would have on his bid for reelection in 2018.  And at a time when Republicans will seek to differentiate themselves from Sen. Donnelly on as many political issues as possible, a vote by Sen. Donnelly to limit the Constitutional rights of so many Indiana voters would clearly be used to dramatic effect by the winner of the Republican primary - and could very well control the outcome of the 2018 senatorial election.

To his credit, Sen. Donnelly voted in favor of National Reciprocity the last time it came up in the Senate in 2013 - as did six other Democrats who are still in the Senate.  Still, the pressure brought on Senators by the gun-hating Democratic leadership in Congress - including minority leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer - will be intense.  Hoosier voters cannot assume that Joe Donnelly will resist the influence of his party leadership in Washington and do the right thing for Hoosiers on National Reciprocity.  

Starting today, Indiana voters should contact Sen. Donnelly by email and call his office in Washington at (202) 224-4814 and tell him exactly how you feel about National Reciprocity and how a vote against the Second Amendment rights of Hoosiers will cost Sen. Donnelly in the upcoming election.

Last Saturday, I discussed the National Reciprocity bill at length on The Gun Guy Show.   If you missed it, you can check out the podcast.

Guy A. Relford

Guy A. Relford is a Second Amendment attorney in Carmel, Indiana.  He is also the owner and chief instructor of Tactical Firearms Training, LLC in Indianapolis and the author of “Gun Safety & Cleaning for Dummies” (Wiley & Sons Publications, 2012).  He hosts “The Gun Guy with Guy Relford” on WIBC radio in Indianapolis every Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.

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