While virtually every state in the Union has some form of a concealed carry law on its books, that doesn’t mean that your concealed carry license is going to be recognized beyond your state’s borders. California, for instance, doesn’t recognize any concealed carry licenses issued by other states, and many others maintain reciprocity with just a handful of other states across the country.
There’s been a push to change that in Congress in recent years, and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) is hoping that 2021 will be the year that lawmakers will approve national concealed carry reciprocity. On Monday the representative introduced H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act along with more than 150 co-sponsors.
“Our Second Amendment rights do not disappear when we cross state lines, and H.R. 38 guarantees that,” said Rep. Hudson. “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2021 is a common sense solution to provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits. I am especially proud to have such widespread and bipartisan support for this measure and will work with my colleagues to get this legislation over the finish line.”
Similar legislation actually passed the House back in 2017, but never received a vote in the Senate. With Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, it’s going to be a challenge for Hudson to get his bill heard in 2021, but the fact that he’s already garnered bipartisan support for the measure is a good sign.
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association’s founder and president Tim Schmidt applauded the introduction of the CCRA on Monday. In a statement, the 2A activist noted that “with almost 20 million concealed carry permit holders nationwide and five million new gun owners in 2020 alone, national concealed carry reciprocity legislation is more important than ever.”
“The current patchwork of state and local laws is overly complex for even the most conscientious concealed carry permit holders. It puts law-abiding citizens at risk of being charged with a crime or worse, being left in a situation where they cannot defend themselves or their families.”
No other individual right stops at the border of the state where you live. You don’t lose your First or Fourth Amendment rights when you travel from Virginia into Washington, D.C., for example, so why should your Second Amendment rights stop at the state line?
If Hudson’s legislation were to become law, then every state’s concealed carry license would be recognized by the others, just as we do with driver’s licenses. It’s not a perfect solution, especially for those who live in states like New Jersey or Maryland where it’s nearly impossible to obtain a carry license, but it would be a huge improvement over the status quo.
So what are the chances of passage? I’d say they’re slim at this point, even with the bipartisan support that we’ve seen so far. Hudson should be able to get most House Republicans on board, and he’ll need a handful of Democrats to cross over in support, but even if his bill passes out of the House it’s going to be tough to get it through the Senate. At best Republicans are going to have a two-vote majority, but eight Democrats would still have to sign on to meet the 60-vote threshold needed for cloture. If Democrats win both seats in the Georgia senate elections, then Chuck Schumer will be the Senate Majority Leader, and there’s no way that he’s bringing up this bill even if Nancy Pelosi were to allow it to get out of the House.
Still, despite the long odds I’m glad that Hudson is once again bringing this bill back. It’s an incredibly important issue, and unless or until SCOTUS weighs in on a right-to-carry case, gun owners should be pressing Congress to take action and quit treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right.