There is a bill floating around in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 . The Bill purports to defend the Second Amendment Rights of residents of one state when they travel to another state. As it stands now, there is a hodge podge of state laws regarding concealed (and open) carry of firearms. There are also varying laws regarding mere possession of firearms.
For the purposes of this blog post “firearms” means handguns, rifles and shotguns are a different topic and in general are much easier to move between states.
Even more confusing, there is an incredible range of reciprocity rules between the states. Some states, Virginia comes to mind, will recognize any other state’s permit. That’s pretty cool, although with the new Governor of the state, I expect that to change once again. Other states, Massachusetts and New Jersey come to mind, will not recognize any other state’s permit. Even worse, New Jersey flouts federal law and routinely arrests out of state residents who are transiting the state with their firearms legally stored. Some states will only recognize other state permits under limited circumstances, which I won’t bore you with.
It’s a mess, to say the least.
The Bill now in the House is supposed to fix that and maybe it will.
It doesn’t matter if it will or not, because I think it’s bad law. I’m against the federal government meddling in the affairs of individual states unless there is a clear Constitutional issue. Which is why I think that the Heller and McDonald cases were properly decided. In both cases, the local government was depriving it’s citizenry of any Second Amendment Rights under the guise of “public safety”. The Court saw through that charade and applied the Law of the Land correctly. If in some future case, the Court says that every state, District, and Territory must have some provision for residents to arm themselves, I’d be fine with that too.
This law seems to go beyond that and dictate how each state will deal with every other state. Which is beyond the scope of what the federal government should be doing.
Additionally, I don’t want the federal government sticking it’s nose into firearm licensing in any way. States are going to complain that they don’t want to recognize the license or permit of State X because State X doesn’t have the same training and testing requirements as State Y. The danger is that the Congress of the United States might just decide to legislate that State X must meet the more stringent requirements of State Y. At which point, State Y can up the ante and make their requirements even more stringent. Before we know it, we’re going to have a rigorous de facto nationwide training and testing standard that is not only difficult to meet, but expensive as well.
The net result is that there will be far fewer people with licenses or permits to carry firearms. Which is the opposite of what we really want.
Yes, I know that none of that is in the proposed legislation. Which doesn’t mean that it won’t be in the bill that is passed. The bill has to go to the Senate, where it is very likely to die. If it doesn’t expect Senators from highly restrictive states to insist that the federal government impose training and testing requirements.
I know some of the readers will think that I’m over reacting, but I’d guess that those folks have never watched how much legislation changes during the legislative process. What’s that old saying? “Those who enjoy the law or sausage should watch neither being made.”
Keep in mind that there would be significant person advantage for me if there was a national reciprocity law. At least on paper there would be an advantage. More than one of the states I visit frequently don’t recognize my home state license. In one or two of them, I have the option of applying for a non resident permit, but no guarantee that it will be approved. Having a “denial” on your record when you apply anywhere else is problematic, especially in states where a denial can be made for no reason.
As it is now, I have licenses from multiple states that allow me to carry to about 80% of the places to which I travel. For those who are going to comment about Utah, keep in mind that it does nothing in my particular case. Keep in mind also that it currently costs me almost $300.00 total to renew all of those licenses. One also requires a six hour drive one way for renewal as they require in person renewals. So, add about another $100.00 (at current prices) plus a couple of meals, to that cost.
Having a one size fits all license from my home state would be very convenient, but I think the larger principles of keeping the federal government out of what should be a state license and not risking an impossibly high standard for licensing outweigh my personal convenience.
For anyone tempted to compare this to driver licensing, keep in mind that the traffic laws in most states are very similar. A red light is the same everywhere. A double yellow line means the same in every state. There are some variations in each state, but that’s more in definition than anything else. Speaking of licensing, a good example of what can happen when the federal government got involved is CDL licensing.
The NRA is behind this bill, but I don’t think that they are thinking it all the way through. There are people at the NRA who know the legislative process much better than do I, but in this case I think they are making a mistake.
That’s where I am on this, at least as of now. Maybe the bill will be passed as is and I’ll be happy, but I’m skeptical, to say the least.