The legislation threatens to trample the rights of state and local governments to keep their citizens safe through common-sense measures granting permits for those carrying concealed weapons.

A far-reaching bill making its way through Congress has raised red flags from a large coalition of mayors, law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates against domestic violence and concerned citizens.

The legislation threatens to trample the rights of state and local governments to keep their citizens safe through common-sense measures granting permits for those carrying concealed weapons.

The National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act is expected to be approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, and a vote in the full House is expected soon. An identical bill is also expected to be introduced in the Senate, where it may be attached to a must-pass appropriations bill.

Currently, states can choose which other state permits they will recognize — generally those with similar standards. However, under this legislation, concealed-weapons permitting would stoop to the lowest common denominator, requiring any state’s permit to be accepted in any other state.

Such an important bill with far-reaching ramifications for both public safety and states’ rights ought to be deliberated, debated and vetted thoroughly. But the chance to debate these important issues will be taken away if the bill is slipped into a crucial appropriations bill.

What’s at stake? Massachusetts and Rhode Island have some of the more restrictive concealed weapons laws in the nation. To protect the public, there are restrictions on who can obtain a permit to carry.

In Massachusetts, for example, those include restrictions on individuals convicted of any misdemeanor violation of any law regulating the use, possession or sale of controlled substances at any point in time, such as first-time convictions for possession of certain quantities of marijuana.

Massachusetts also restricts permits from being issued to people who have received treatment for drug addiction or “habitual drunkenness”; those convicted of certain misdemeanor gun crimes; and anyone who is the subject of an outstanding federal or state arrest warrant.

Massachusetts also requires that applicants be over the age of 21, that they complete a firearms safety course, be of good character, have a “good cause” for carrying a concealed weapon and be a resident or have a place of business in the commonwealth.

While not all believe that the restrictions in Massachusetts are reasonable, such issues should be decided by the commonwealth’s lawmakers or courts –– not those made in other state capitols.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has joined a number of attorneys general in opposing the measure. So, too, has a large bipartisan coalition of 600 mayors across the country — Mayors Against Illegal Guns — of which Boston Mayor Tom Menino is a co-chair with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“We respect the Second Amendment. We respect lawful gun owners,” Menino spokesman Jake Sullivan said. “We’re after illegal guns.”

If the legislation passes and public safety is compromised as a result, it could spell even more restrictions on concealed weapons and stricter gun control measures than currently exist in most jurisdictions.

Conservatives and liberals alike should also recognize the clear impingement on states’ rights, questions of constitutionality and the clear and present danger this bill poses to law enforcement and the general public.

“We believe it’s dangerous for law enforcement and their ability to deter criminals and would encourage gun trafficking,” Sullivan said.

Members of Congress from both parties should listen to the strong sentiment coming from a wide, bipartisan coalition of mayors, law enforcement, prosecutors and citizens, and Congress should make sure this misguided bill is dead on arrival.

-- Herald News Editorial Board (Mass.)