Why the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is So Important

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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.

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.