National concealed-carry reciprocity moves forward today as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 cleared the House floor. If the act becomes law, people with concealed-carry permits will be able to carry concealed firearms in every state where permitted.
“You’re not going to see mobs of people carrying concealed [weapons] into Times Square,” said North Carolina Republican Richard Hudson, who sponsored the law. “But law-abiding citizens who may be passing through one state to get to grandma’s house in the next state aren’t automatically going to become a criminal.”
“There are more than 16 million concealed carry permit holders in America,” explained Gahanna, Ohio Police Chief Dennis Murphy. “That number has surged in the last decade, and at the same time, violent crime has declined nearly in half. Law-abiding gun owners are not to be feared or mistrusted. We should focus our attentions on those who commit offenses against others, not those who simply wish to protect themselves.”
The act passed largely on party lines although there were outliers on both sides of the aisle. The version was passed as-is without a motion to recommit with instructions.
“For the millions of law-abiding citizens who lawfully carry concealed to protect themselves, for conservatives who want to strengthen our Second Amendment rights, and for the overwhelming majority of Americans who support concealed carry reciprocity, Christmas came early,” said Hudson.
The NRA calls it “the most expansive piece of self-defense legislation in the history of Congress.”
“This vote marks a watershed moment for Second Amendment rights,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA. “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is the culmination of a 30-year movement recognizing the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, and their loved ones, including when they cross state lines.”
“This bill ensures that all law-abiding citizens in our great country can protect themselves in the manner they see fit without accidentally running afoul of the law,” said Cox. “We now call on the Senate to take up and pass this critical legislation.”
Permit holders would still have to follow all local and state laws in the states they carry in. For gun rights supporters this is positive news, while anti-gunners are already calling the move “disastrous.”
The argument against concealed-carry reciprocity is that some states have high standards for concealed-carry, and these states would have to recognize carry permits from states with very open standards.
This would also let gun owners get out-of-state carry permits to carry at home, even if they could not normally get a concealed-carry permit in their own jurisdiction. This will undo the work many states have made to make it hard for people to get carry permits.
“House Republicans just ignored opposition from law enforcement and the public in order to eviscerate state gun laws and make it easy for people with dangerous histories and no training to carry hidden, loaded guns across the country,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
Whether it will be signed into law is another matter. For supporters and opponents of national concealed-carry reciprocity, there is much more to do. A big part of that is the controversial Fix NICS Act of 2017.
Fix NICS is a law intended to strengthen the current background check system. It has strong bipartisan support. But some people question how far Fix NICS will dig into people’s backgrounds, potentially blocking thousands of people from buying guns with no sense of due process.
Legislators and lobbyists on both sides of the issue want to link Fix NICS with the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. Some believe that combining the acts will produce enough momentum to carry both into law. Others believe that the reciprocity bill will poison Fix NICS — or vice-versa — in order to block both laws from going into effect.
Time will tell if this is symbolic victory for gun rights or the first step in establishing national concealed-carry standards. And if one or both of these laws are passed, there is always the possibility that the next fight after that will be in the courts.