Politics & Society — April 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

National Right To Carry Reciprocity and Other Conspiracies

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Over the last ten years, nearly every state in the union has adopted some form of concealed carry or right to carry law. These laws allow a citizen to acquire a permit to carry a concealed firearm.  Today, 48 states issue carry permits, Vermont allows carrying without a permit, and three other states also allow carrying without a permit, but issue permits for the purpose of permit reciprocity with other states. Only Illinois completely prohibits carrying firearms outside one’s home or business for self-defense.

Concealed carry permit requirements vary from state to state.   Recognition of the rights of a permit holder from one state while he is visiting another state vary even more.  Some states only recognize permits issued in bordering states, while others only recognize those issued on similar requirements.

On March 12, S. 2188, the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012,” was introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).  A nearly identical bill, H.R. 822, passed the House of Representatives on Nov. 16, 2011, by a vote of 272-154.  This bill would require all states that issue permits to recognize permits issued lawfully by any state.

I am firm believer in the 2nd amendment and the power that it grants us all to protect ourselves, our families and our property.   As a child I was educated on safe handling and use of a gun and enjoy shooting as a hobby to this day.   Though I do not have a concealed carry permit I could not agree more with the practice of issuing them to law abiding citizens that meet the requirements set up by their state of residency.

None of this should come as a shock from a state’s rights conservative who is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.  What may come as a shock is my complete lack of support for right to carry reciprocity.

What? It's legal in Vermont

Forcing each state to recognize a permit issued in another is ludicrous.  Why stop at concealed weapons? Got a permit to hold a parade in Vermont but want  to march down the streets in Laredo, Texas? Why not.  The truth is that another state is not even required to acknowledge your marriage license.

Perhaps in the short term this may look like a great deal.  Extend the number of places a licensed gun owner can carry a firearm on his person.  It sounds great until…someone realizes just how different each state’s law is.  Ohio allows concealed carry in liquor serving establishments, most states do not.  Florida bars a permit holder from bringing his weapon into any house of worship–a non-issue in any other state.

The conspiracy theorist in me sees one ultimate outcome…standardized national gun laws.  Uniformity to clear up the above issues will only be a first step.  Eventually in order to make this bill work, the firearm will be regulated out of reach for the average person.   Then come the ammo taxes and transfer restrictions and pretty soon the whole country looks like California.  The only thing I cannot figure out is how the NRA could be so shortsighted  as to support this legislation.

Bottom line– states have laid down the circumstances, locations, and requirements that fit their population as it relates to concealed carry.  The laws of New York City would not make sense in Nashville, TN.  Forcing states to recognize legal requirements from another is a slippery slope: one that forces me to disagree with the NRA.

One Comment

  1. In my eyes this is a double edged sword. On one hand, I agree with this article. Turning states choices into a federal mandate is a dangerous and slippery slope. I also like the comfort of knowing that if I am uncomfortable with the laws of my state there are 49 more sets of laws from which to choose. However, I can understand the other side of the issue as well. Truck drivers, military families, and a few dozen more occupations require regular interstate travel, usually at night, and sometimes in unsafe places. If the brandish their weapon to defend themselves, not only do they have an assault/ manslaughter case on their hands but there would also be the added complication of gun law violations. In some states that additional violation can move a manslaughter case to a murder case, or progress the various degrees of murder, which bears steeper penalties and harsher punishments.

    I think what tipped the scale for me was the very valid point that you made with regards to the varying state gun laws. Not only do all of the states have different laws but they also have different levels of difficulty for obtaining a conceal and carry permit. This would make it easy to bypass the stricter systems and just become licensed in a different state. I am not comfortable with any federal mandate that makes a state law basically moot.

    I do have an added disclaimer, though. I am not a gun owner. In fact guns scare me. Not for the usual reasons though… just because they have lethal potential…and I am a klutz. I am a girl who avoids sharp utensils, let alone firearms. But really this is more of a states rights issue than a gun law issue.

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