Lawmaker touts handgun bill’s self-defense value to truckers

Advancing legislation that would allow truck drivers to travel freely between states while carrying a concealed weapon is a priority for the lawmaker who introduced it.

“Truck drivers are the backbone of our country and understand this issue more than most, as they drive alone with valuable merchandise across state lines every week,” U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, who introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2019, told FreightWaves. “I will continue to fight to advance this bill in Congress and defend the rights of truck drivers and all law-abiding citizens.”

The legislation, introduced in January of last year, allows individuals licensed to carry a concealed handgun in their state of residence to legally transport it into another state that allows concealed carry. Those who qualify under the proposal must be eligible to possess, transport or receive a firearm under federal law, and must carry a valid concealed carry permit issued by any state or be eligible to carry a concealed firearm in their state of residence, according to the bill’s language.

“Currently, criminals only need to look for an out-of-state license plate to know who to target at a truck stop. The Concealed Carry Act of 2019 would address this threat by ensuring law-abiding citizens, including truck drivers, can carry across state lines as long as they have a concealed carry permit or a valid license from a constitutional carry state,” Hudson added.

Hudson introduced the same bill in the previous Congress, where it passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in December 2017 by a vote of 231-198, with six Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. The current legislation, however, which has 160 cosponsors, is so far supported by only two Democrats. A similar concealed carry reciprocity bill, introduced in the U.S. Senate last year by John Cornyn, R-Texas, currently has 38 cosponsors, all Republicans.

The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC), which has lobbied to loosen gun regulations on behalf of truck drivers, believes that even if reciprocity legislation were approved by Congress and signed into law, “we believe there is a good chance the law would be thrown out by the Supreme Court on 10th Amendment grounds, as using Federal power to coerce states that do not want to grant reciprocity into doing so violates ‘states’ rights,’” according to SBTC’s website.

SBTC, which sees current federal gun laws as violating the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, is promoting a petition to amend a federal firearms statute. SBTC did not respond to a request to comment on the effort.

Expanding gun-carrying rights in the trucking industry is a long-standing issue, becoming more prominent when supply chain safety risks increase and drivers become more concerned about protecting themselves from crime.

Trucking vehicle and cargo theft by incident type, 2019-2020 (March 1 – May 24)
Source: CargoNet

In 2018 — the latest full-year data available — the 20 deaths documented in the trucking sector accounted for 2.4% of all fatal workplace incidents caused by “violence and other injuries by persons or animals” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, “as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, crimes related [to it] will continue to increase as well,” according to a recent news release by CargoNet, which tracks theft in the trucking industry. The company noted that trucks carrying medical supplies such as surgical masks and gloves, as well as food, beverage and household goods, are most likely to be targeted.