Why the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is So Important

In January of this year, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson introduced his national reciprocity bill, a piece of legislation which would enable people with a state-issued concealed carry license to conceal a handgun in any other state that permits concealed carry, so long as the licensed individual complies with the other state’s gun laws.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn subsequently introduced a companion bill entitled the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act in the Senate. As Coryn said at the time, “This bill strengthens both the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and the power of states to implement laws best-suited for the folks who live there.

“This legislation is an important affirmation of our Second Amendment rights and has been a top priority of law-abiding gun owners in Texas for a long time.”

After Rep. Steve Scalise was shot by a demented liberal terrorist, Rep. Thomas Massie introduced his own bill, the Personal Protection Reciprocity Act. In a press release, Massie was quoted as saying, “To ensure public safety, we need to repeal laws that keep good guys from carrying guns, since not everyone has a personal police detail.”

The national reciprocity legislation seems to echo the sentiments that President Trump conveyed during his campaign. At the time, when discussing policy, the Republican hopeful said, “Concealed carry…is a right, not a privilege” and rallied for national recognition of the concealed carry recognition.

“The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway,” he explained. “That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states.”

But since then, the administration has been tight-lipped about national reciprocity, and the Personal Protection Reciprocity Act seems to have stalled. The blame appears to fall on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who refuses to permit Congressional action on national reciprocity because he doesn’t think the time is right.

The logic to Ryan’s position on the bill is hard to grasp considering that the bill has no less than eighty cosponsors. But now is not the time for America to allow this type of legislation to die on the vine. On the contrary, it’s a crucial time in US history, a time when every American needs to protect themselves.

After all, the threat is no longer one that can be easily identified. The War on Terror is not a race war, it’s an ideological war and, as we’ve seen in recent years, more and more terrorists are proving out to be Caucasian American citizens.

The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting have found that of 201 plots and attacks carried out between 2008 and 2016, 115 of those were by white militants, and 19 were meted out by left-wing ecoterrorists and animal rights militants.

With the enemy lurking on the home front instead of in some distant land, it is imperative that Americans retain their right to own and carry suitable handguns to defend themselves at home. And the issue of concealed carry is one that should be part of the country’s public dialogue.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this; Mayors and law enforcement officials from gun-restrictive states like New York and California have come out as staunch opponents of this legislation. They do not want a concealed carry permit to be treated like a driver’s license.

In a July, 2017 letter, California Police Chiefs Association president Edward Medrano wrote, “The bill would erode local control of issuing concealed carry permits, as the arbitrariness of the issuing authority rules would reduce the requirements for concealed carry to the lowest common denominator.

“Further, the lack of a national database for concealed carry permits makes it functionally impossible for a law enforcement officer in the field to determine the legal compliance of an individual carrying a concealed firearm.”

What folks like Medrano fail to understand, however, is the value that such a bill could have for many responsible gun owners.

My next door neighbor here in Upstate, New York is one such responsible gun owner. He took proper measures to obtain a concealed carry permit and stores his handgun in a biometric gun safe when it’s not holstered.

Despite this law-abiding citizen taking all proper safety measures with his gun and being in good standing with local law enforcement, he was held at gunpoint, handcuffed, harassed and thrown in a cell when he made the mistake of taking his handgun on a family vacation to Las Vegas.

He and his wife were pulled over on suspicion of contraband (my neighbor is a chainsmoker and the arresting officer mistook the plume of smoke billowing out his driver side window for marijuana) and asked if there were any weapons in the vehicle.

He told the officer that he had a concealed carry permit and had his handgun in a holster on the floorboard. That’s when the officer trained his side arm on my neighbor and everything went south.

My neighbor was let go after some interrogation, but he was ordered to turn around and head home as the state of Nevada has a permit policy which stipulates that out-of-towners must take an eight-hour concealed carry firearm permit course in order to be approved by the sheriff for a Nevada concealed carry license.

In August, another responsible gun owner sued his state after he was forced to give up his concealed carry privileges. He was forced to forfeit his right to concealed carry not because of a crime committed or any kind of permit violation but because he wanted to become…a foster parent to his grandson.

You read that right, one Mr. Bill Johnson, a resident of Michigan, was told that his home state prohibits foster parents from from carrying concealed weapons. Mr. Johnson and his wife were able to lobby the Legislature to alter the law, but they have been barred from reapplying under the amended rules.

The foster care rule sets a dangerous precedent when one considers the value that should be placed on safety and security, not only for the children in foster care but for the foster parents themselves. If the 2009 case of 16-year old Ashley Jewel and 15-year old Kelsey Beams taught us anything it’s that hard-luck cases can often turn into potential homicide cases, and foster parents should be able to adequately arm themselves against attack by unruly and disturbed foster children.

As for the larger issue of whether gun owners should be allowed to carry their handguns across state lines, many believe that this shouldn’t be a matter for federal debate, rather it should be one determined on a state-by-state basis.

In the words of Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt, “Federally imposed concealed carry laws interfere with states’ fundamental right to determine who is too dangerous to carry hidden, loaded guns in public.”

But as Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action has said, “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.”

Cox’s stance on the issue is in keeping with the view of most of the 16 million concealed-carry permittees in the United States. The bedrock right to self-defense is not one that should be stripped away once a person reaches their state border.

Sam Bocetta is a retired engineer who worked for over 35 years as a defense contractor for the U.S. Navy, specializing in electronic warfare and advanced computer systems. He teaches in Ottawa, Canada as a part time engineering professor and is the ASEAN affairs correspondent for Gun News Daily.