National Reciprocity Coming Soon?

On Tuesday, January 3, 2017, the prospect of national reciprocity for concealed carry license holders took its first step.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition, filed H.R.38, known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. The proposed measure would require states to recognize each other’s gun carry permits. At present, each state decides which other states’ gun carry permits it will recognize, leading to a myriad and confusing patchwork of state and local laws.

Hudson released this statement upon filing:

“Our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is a common sense solution to a problem too many Americans face. It will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits. As a member of President-elect Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to get this legislation across the finish line.”

Rep. Hudson has indicated that the bill is similar to the one he filed the last legislative session that failed to reach the House floor for a vote. If passed, the law would require states to recognize the validity of every other state’s gun carry licenses, but it would require concealed carriers to follow the specific laws of whatever state in which they are carrying.  Furthermore, it adds language designed to ensure that those in Constitutional Carry states, where no permit is required to concealed carry, are protected by the legislation.

Specifically, the bill provides in Sec. 926D(c)(1):

A person who carries or possesses a concealed handgun in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) may not be arrested or otherwise detained for violation of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof related to the possession, transportation, or carrying of firearms unless there is probable cause to believe that the person is doing so in a manner not provided for by this section.

Opponents to the bill argue that if passed into law, the bill would abrogate the state laws that each of the states have passed on their own, making the federal government the final arbiter of who is allowed to carry where, despite state laws to the contrary.

Hudson counters that his bill would respect state gun laws and specifically states that it would not supersede nor limit individual states’ laws governing the time, place or manner of carry or establish national standards for concealed carry by any individual not prohibited by Federal law from possessing a firearm.

Others argue that if this law passes constitutional muster, then a future Congress could just as easily rescind the legislation and potentially carry it further in exercising more limits to gun-owners’ rights with more onerous restrictions.

That would be a fight for another day.

The proposed legislation would also allow concealed carry in the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and on lands under the authority of the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation.

The bill was immediately referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. A copy of the bill can be found here.

Despite his earlier attempts at passing a national reciprocity bill, Hudson is optimistic that this time the bill will pass with a new Congress in place and with the support of the new President. – by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog