Texas Senator John Cornyn has announced the “Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act” today, a bill that will establish the same sort of “common sense” acceptanace of concealed carry permits that everyone in the country currently enjoys for driver’s licenses.
It would be utterly absurd to think that a drive from New York to Florida would require you to go through the process of driver’s education, a driving test, and obtaining a driver’s license for New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, but that is exactly the problem currently face by concealed carriers in the United States today.
Thanks to a bizarre patchwork of “may issue” and “shall issue” laws, and arbitrary and ever-changing reciprocity agreements between various state attorney generals, it is functionally impossible to know from month-to-month or state-to-state where a citizen with a concealed carry license can legally carry a firearm. If his or her information isn’t up to date, an otherwise law-abiding citizen could run afoul of obscene and parochial local laws, as did Shaneen Allen did when she crossed a bridge from Pennsylvania as a lawfu concealed carry permit holder, only to become a “criminal” the moment she touched New Jersey soil.
Cornyn’s bill—and several similar reciprocity bills soon to be introduced into the House of Representatives—will go a long way towards establishing safe and sane carry laws within the United States.
The bill will allow law-abiding citizens to exercise their rights without running into local reciprocity “traps” that could turn them into felons, while concealed carriers would still be subject to the laws of the states in which they are travels in regards to the laws that they must follow in terms of keeping it concealed, where they can carry, and when they may use force.
It’s also important to note what Cornyn’s bill does and does not do:
- Does not establish national standards for concealed carry.
- Does not provide for a national concealed carry permit.
- Respects state laws concerning specific types of locations in which firearms may not be carried and types of firearms which may not be carried by the visiting individual.
- Protects states’ rights by not mandating the right to concealed carry in places that do not allow the practice, like Washington, D.C.
- Does not allow a resident to circumvent their home state’s concealed carry permit laws.
- If under current law an individual is prohibited by federal law from carrying a firearm, they will continue to be prohibited from doing so under our bill.
There is broad-based, bipartisan support for this legislation in the Senate, and it is expected to easily pass.
It remains to be seen what version of a reciprocity agreement will come out of the House of Representatives, but the eventual bill in the house should be easily reconcilable with the Senate version.
If the bill passed and reconciled in both houses of Congress as is expected, the reciprocity bill will then head to President Obama’s desk… where the most anti-gun President in American history is likely to veto the popular legislation.
It will then become very interesting to see if Congress can then amass the votes to push the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act into law by over-riding President Obama’s expected veto.
I am cautiously optimistic.
Update: The NRA has offered immediate support for the legislation, saying in part:
“The current patchwork of state and local laws is confusing for even the most conscientious and well-informed concealed carry permit holders. This confusion often leads to law-abiding gun owners running afoul of the law when they exercise their right to self-protection while traveling or temporarily living away from home,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA. “Senator Cornyn’s legislation provides a much needed solution to a real problem for law-abiding gun owners.”