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Protests ignite push to link CDL with concealed carry license

George Floyd protests in Minneapolis (Photo: Flickr/Jenny Salita)

A trucking group formed to fight government overreach wants lawmakers to consider linking commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to concealed carry permits to help drivers feel safer as their jobs get more dangerous.

“We’re discussing how to get legislation introduced that would give active CDL holders an addendum permit to their license that would be connected to their concealed carry gun permit,” explained Ingrid Brown, who oversees safety education for the United States Transportation Alliance (USTA).

“The point would be to allow drivers to carry a concealed weapon in their truck – not in just the concealed-carry permit state that they’re from, but across all 48 states that allow for concealed carry within the state.”

Brown, an independent owner-operator, said that gun laws have always been a topic of discussion among drivers. But dangers to truck drivers posed by protesters demonstrating against police brutality sparked renewed discussions among USTA’s board members about easing federal gun restrictions, Brown said.

Earlier this week, Marcus Sommers, a USTA board member, was ambushed by gunfire while driving his rig along I-70 in Ohio in an incident unrelated to the protests. Sommers was not physically hurt, but Brown said the event created even more urgency around concealed carry.

“If I’m on the street waiting to get into the shipper or the receiver, how do I protect myself? We want to do as much of our own homework and research and education on this issue so that we can bring more awareness not just to local and state governments, but also to Congress, on what we’re dealing with out here and how we’re dealing with it.”

An informal survey taken earlier this week by FreightWaves polling a mix of owner-operators, company drivers, and fleet owners revealed that easing restrictions on concealed carry to be widely supported in the industry even by those associated with larger trucking companies that may be more likely to have strict weapons policies in place.

Concealed carry became more controversial, however, when respondents were asked whether internal company policy would be adjusted to allow drivers to carry a concealed weapon if laws regulating concealed carry were to be relaxed.

But Brown contends that while company policy would likely override a federal law, “giving a driver with a CDL the specific right to concealed carry across state lines would provide more leverage on this issue,” she said. “Our greatest hope would be for companies to see what’s going on out there with a potential law that gives them a reason to change their own policy for drivers that want that protection.”

Concealed carry reciprocity legislation aimed at the general public is currently pending in both the U.S. House and Senate. The House bill does not directly link CDLs to concealed carry permits but truckers would benefit from the proposal’s provisions, according to U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina), who introduced the legislation in 2019.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.