On March 13, less than two weeks after Trayvon Martin's death, a Democratic senator from gun-friendly Alaska, Mark Begich, introduced the "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012." Just another week later, SenatorJohn Thune from South Dakota introduced a bill "to allow reciprocity for the carrying of certain concealed firearms."
The differences between the two are minor and due to an arcane dispute between the NRA and the smaller and more radical Gun Owners of America. The NRA has asked its members to contact their senators and ask them to co-sponsor the Begich bill.
Both bills would force all states that issue permits to carry concealed weapons to recognize permits obtained elsewhere. States such as California and New York that have stringent regulations on who can carry a gun would be obliged to allow people with permits obtained from states with lax gun laws, such as Florida. Gun control advocates say that it is laws allowing citizens to carry loaded handguns in public that form the basis of additional legislation, Such as the Florida Stand Your Ground law that barred police from arresting Zimmerman.
As Alcee Hastings, a Democratic congressman from Florida put it: "This misguided law does not make our streets safer, rather it turns our streets into a showdown at the OK Corral. But this is not the Wild West. We are supposed to be a civilized society. Let Trayvon's death not be for naught. Let us honour his life by righting this wrong." Hastings, who is African American, called for a repeal of the law.
That is not likely to happen, and less so in an election year. US President Barack Obama has stayed out of the debate on gun laws, which flares every time there is a headline-making shooting, and with few exceptions, lawmakers seek the gun lobby's favour and the resulting votes. This is the chief reason why advocates of tighter gun regulations have had little success over the past two decades.