WASHINGTON—The National Rifle Association, which spent an unprecedented amount to help elect Donald Trump president, is preparing to go on the offense in the friendliest political environment for its causes in at least a decade. With Republicans holding Congress and the White House starting in January, the gun-rights organization will push an agenda that was stymied during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office
The group says it will first turn its attention to Mr. Trump’s nomination of a Supreme Court justice to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia. But the gun lobby does have favorites, according to people familiar with its discussions. Among them is Judge Bill Pryor, of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, who as attorney general of Alabama was an ardent advocate of an individual’s right to own weapons.At the top of the NRA’s legislative agenda is a law mandating that concealed-carry permits issued in one state be recognized in all 50, similar to a driver’s license.
“Law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise their constitutional right regardless of what state they’re sitting in.”
One bill, introduced by Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, would allow individuals carrying concealed weapons anywhere in the U.S. to abide by the laws of their home state. If an individual’s home state requires a permit to carry, he or she must carry the license across state lines. But if a state allows individuals to carry guns without going through the permit process, they may do so in all 50 states.The NRA ultimately favors doing away with permits entirely, believing the ability to carry concealed weapons is a constitutional right—a goal they refer to as “constitutional carry.” But GOP aides privately note that Mr. Cornyn’s bill will be vigorously opposed by Democrats.In the House, Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.) has offered a narrower take on the legislation, requiring all concealed carriers to obtain some kind of state permit that would be recognized everywhere. The bill has several Democratic co-sponsors and is viewed as the likelier version to pass both chambers of Congress.“I support constitutional carry, but if we can’t get the Senate to go there, then certainly having reciprocity is a great step,” Mr. Hudson said in an interview. “I’m willing to accept a little more freedom even though I’d prefer a lot more.”“It’s a race to the bottom,” he said. “It allows people that have permits from states with the weakest standards possible to carry [weapons] in the streets of any U.S. city.”
But Republicans and some Democrats say some form of national reciprocity will likely become law in the next Congress, particularly with Mr. Trump, himself a concealed-carry permit holder, in the White House. He has called the ability to carry concealed weapons “a right, not a privilege.”
During the presidential campaign, the NRA endorsed Mr. Trump earlier than any other nominee in the group’s history and spent more than $21 million in advertising on his behalf.
“Obama spent eight years in office chipping away at the second amendment, through agencies at all levels of government,” Ms. Baker said. “It’ll take some time to figure out what things need fixing.”