Many concealed carriers are frustrated about the patchwork of concealed carry laws that vary from state to state. For example, a concealed handgun permit holder from Virginia may carry in the neighboring North Carolina, but not Maryland or DC.
Fortunately for gun owners, legislation in Congress would fix the concealed carry mess. H.R. 38 and S. 446, would establish that if one is eligible to carry in a state, then one can carry across the country. And these bills are quite popular, with H.R. 38 having over 200 cosponsors, and S. 446 having almost 40 cosponsors.
But despite the strong nationwide support for carry reciprocity, there is a small, but vocal group of critics of carry reciprocity.
Here’s three of their arguments and how to refute them.
- Myth #1: Carry reciprocity further reinforces permitted carry, which is a constitutional infringement.
As explained elsewhere, any honest American should not have to get a permit to carry a gun. In fact, the need for reciprocity would be negated if every state truly respected the right to bear arms.
But this myth couldn’t be further from the truth when one examines the legislation in Congress. The current reciprocity legislation in Congress actually protects and promotes permitless carry states. If one is from a Constitutional Carry (permitless) state, he or she could carry a firearm across the country without a permit. Furthermore, carry reciprocity would encourage more states to adopt Constitutional Carry laws because the need for the permit for reciprocity is annulled.
- Myth #2: Carry reciprocity gives the federal government too much power.
Unlike most bills passed by Congress, carry reciprocity actually has constitutional authority.
First, Article IV recognizes the “…public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.” A concealed carry permit would fall under a public act or record.
Second, reciprocity has authority from the Second Amendment via the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment applied the first eight amendments to the states to prevent states from infringing upon those rights. Furthermore, the landmark Supreme Court case, McDonald v. Chicago, affirmed the Second Amendment’s application to the states.
Think about it this way: when a group peaceably protests, it is said that they are exercising their First Amendment rights, applying the federal Bill of Rights to the states. States cannot institute laws that restrict free speech, because that would violate the First Amendment. Likewise, when it comes to concealed carry, states cannot infringe rights protected by the Second Amendment.
In essence, carry reciprocity doesn’t “give” the federal government anything; it actually enforces the Constitution.
- Myth #3: Carry reciprocity leaves gun owners in restricted carry states out to dry.
Again, this is an argument that could not be further from the truth. Some states simply do not respect the Second Amendment. For example, California and New York are “May Issue” carry states, meaning that even if an honest citizen applies for a permit, he or she might not receive it. (This contrasts with “Shall Issue” states, which must issue permits if the applicant is law-abiding.)
Current reciprocity legislation, particularly H.R. 38, would enable residents of the anti-gun states to get out-of-state permits from “Shall Issue” states. This means that a New Jersey gun owner could get a Utah or Florida permit to not only carry is his or her own state, but also to carry concealed around the country.
To conclude, while every state should be a Constitutional Carry state, carry reciprocity is the vehicle to get there.
For more information on carry reciprocity, see “Answering Common Objections to Concealed Carry Reciprocity.”
Jordan Stein is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America (GOA), a grassroots organization representing more than 1.5 million gun owners. He can be followed on Twitter at @jordankstein
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