The 411 on National Reciprocity for Concealed Carry

Since the prosecution of Shaneen Allen, there has been a push across the United States for national reciprocity but few are aware of the proposed reciprocity bills. While I have some concerns about national reciprocity (which I review below), it is important to understand the four currently pending bills regarding national reciprocity.

Senate Bill 498, introduced by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and House of Representatives Bill 923, introduced by U.S. Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) are companion bills (meaning that they are identical, at least, when submitted). Currently S.B. 498 has 32 cosponsors and H.R. 923 has 36 cosponsors. These bills would provide that where an individual is not prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and has license or permit from a state, which includes a photo, that allows him/her to possess or carry a concealed firearm, he/she would be entitled to carry a concealed firearm, pursuant to his/her license/permit, in any state that allows residents of that state to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms or in a state that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of that state for lawful purposes. Additionally, the same protections are afforded to a resident of a state where he/she is entitled to carry a firearm absent a license or permit. (This provision is of questionable benefit, since, to my knowledge, all states that have gone to “constitutional carry” still have a mechanism for an individual to obtain a license/permit for purposes of reciprocity). It should be noted that both machineguns and destructive devices are exempt from carrying, pursuant to this bill; however, short barreled rifles/shotguns and Any Other Weapons would seemingly be permitted, since not excluded. Furthermore, all the laws and regulations of the state the individual is in would apply; hence, if a particular state’s laws precluded hollow-point bullets, one could not carry hollow-point bullets in that state, pursuant to this bill.

House of Representatives Bill 402, introduced by U.S. Representative Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) currently has 93 cosponsors. This bill is almost identical to S.B. 498 and H.R. 923 but lacks the inclusion of non-licensed residents of states where the individual is entitled to carry a firearm absent a license or permit. (See above for the questionable benefit of this provision).

And, saving the best for last, House of Representatives Bill 986, introduced by U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), currently has 183 cosponsors. Similar to H.R. 402, it lacks a provision including non-licensed residents of states where the individual is entitled to carry a firearm absent a license or permit. (See above for the questionable benefit of this provision). Additionally, unlike the other bills, H.R. 986 supersedes state law seemingly in all respects, except for state laws which “permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property” and “prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park.”

And if that wasn’t enough to sell you on H.R. 986, it also provides for (1) immunity from prosecution “unless there is probable cause to believe that the person is doing so in a manner not provided for by this section”; (2) the individual’s right to attorney fees, where he/she is prosecuted unsuccessfully; (3) a civil cause of action against any state or political subdivision that deprives an individual of their rights under this bill, where the individual is entitled to damages and attorney fees.

While I support H.R. 986, I have some general concerns about national reciprocity in general, especially in determining, whose laws apply. As I see it, there are five options:

  1. The laws of individual’s state of residence apply. This is extremely problematic as it would require that law enforcement know the 50 states’ laws, when they typically do not even know the laws of the state in which they are employed.
  2. The laws of state the individual is in apply. This has generally been toted as the most practical; however, how is a resident of another state suppose to determine what is lawful and unlawful? I frequently spend 4+ hrs during firearms law seminars just going over Pennsylvania’s law. I cannot fathom how any lay person could possibly comprehend, absent competent legal advice, most states’ laws regarding the carrying and possession of loaded firearms. This, in essence, is no different than requiring that a law enforcement officer know 50 different states’ laws; however, at least the law enforcement officer has training in reading and interpreting the laws.
  3. Hybrid of 1 and 2. My own personal opinion of the best option that is likely (e.g. absent 5 applying) is for each state to be required to make an easily comprehensible guide to their concealed carry laws, where if an individual reasonably relies on the information in the guide to his/her detriment, he/she is immune from prosecution.
  4. Federal law dictates the permitted conduct, such as, an individual carrying pursuant to national reciprocity is restricted to ten rounds, only full metal jacket,…etc. The problem, for me, with this approach is that this would encroach upon states’ rights. While the U.S Government has encroached upon states’ rights for decades, seemingly erasing the 10th Amendment, I have never nor can I support further erosion of the Constitution.
  5. The 2nd Amendment applies! Clearly, if all state laws regulating the possession and carrying of firearms are unconstitutional pursuant to the 2nd Amendment, then there is no erosion of the 10th Amendment, since the states cannot restrict an inalienable right. Unfortunately, most court decisions are not supportive of this position; however, it appears to (largely) be the outcome sought through H.R. 986.

Also, I must note that I have a problem with all of the bills in that they require photographic identification. As our readers are likely aware, I recently filed suit against the U.S. Government for denying my client the right to purchase a firearm because his religious beliefs preclude him from having his photo taken. As none of us are born with photo identification and all states have a mechanism in place for an individual to obtain, for the first time, photographic identification, any law should permit individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs to prove their identity no differently than that required for an individual to prove his/her identity for the first time to obtain photographic identification.

Let us know your thoughts on national reciprocity, which bill you support and why!

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14 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

14 responses to “The 411 on National Reciprocity for Concealed Carry

  1. Joe

    Great write up. Any idea of the current status of HR 986? I see it was referred to committee in March. Did it go there to die?

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  2. Sean

    Mr. Prince, or Josh as you told me to call you the last time we had a chat online. Thank you for posting these great informational writings. They really do help us non-attorney types to understand what is going on regarding our rights. I still believe that under full faith and credit under the 14th amendment, my LTCF should be valid everywhere. However, I may be the odd ball amongst folks with that thinking. After working 26 years in LE, I can say you are 100% correct on officers not know the laws in their own states, so how could they be expected to know the laws of 50 states. Keep up the great work.

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  3. Clarke Ferber

    You forgot that Vermont has no permit system – so the bills SB498/HB923 take that into account and provide for CCW by Vermont residents.

    >

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  4. Scott Brooks

    I honestly have no problem with any of the proposals. Looking up the laws for each state I visit is not a big issue – I do it now because my permit is valid in numerous states through reciprocity agreements.

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  5. Evets Steve

    Couldn’t there be a 6th option? a nationally issued license to carry recognized in all 50 states and us territories ? Call it a FFCL, issued by the passport office.

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  6. Maureen Gyory

    I would never want to be limited to ten rounds!

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  7. Jeff Goldstein

    It was my impression that some of the proposed bills required that the carry permit be issued by your home state. Do all of the proposals now say that a carry permit issued by ANY state to a resident or nonresident is valid in all states? Otherwise NJ residents couldn’t carry in any state but visitors to NJ could carry in NJ.

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  8. Ben naparstek

    I am a National reciprocity supporter however, I see several issues in addition to what was mentioned in the article. Some states are shall issue, like my beloved state of PA, others are may issue like NJ or MD. All states have different criteria for getting a permit. Some have varying degrees of classes you need to take, others (may issue states) like NJ, Ny, etc.. are very restrictive in issuing permits. The only way I would think this would work would be a minimum standard of training or qualification for your state permit. Like a drivers lisence. I understand that driving is a privilege and gun ownership is a right. However, If there was a national minimum standard, even may issue states would need to honor permits from other states. Feedback welcome.

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    • Jeff Goldstein

      You seem to be making a problem where there is none. No requirement for a carry permit has ever been shown to make any difference in safety or any other measure. Harshly restrictive states like NJ or NY will never be happy with any carry permit process from makes things less restrictive. It is and should be very simple. Any carry permit including ones for residents and non residents from any state needs to be honored in all states. I live in NJ and will be applying for my NH carry permit next week so I can carry in PA. National reciprocity would finally let me carry in my home state of NJ with that same NH permit. It’s that simple. Just like for marriage. All states have to honor marriage licences and driver’s licences from all other states. They don’t check to see if sexual orientation, age, etc. agrees with the issuing state’s laws.

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      • Michael lachance

        Mr Goldstein. I too live in nj. What is involved with getting a nh non resident ccw. Thanks

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      • Jeff Goldstein

        Go on NH web site and download pdf form for application. Fill it out ignoring part about carry permit from your home state. It is no longer required but they haven’t updated form. You will need 3 references. Mail them form and check. There are no training or fingerprinting requirements. Be patient. It might take 2 months or so since they are overloaded with applications since court decision throwing out home state carry permit requirement. Currently it is good in PA and many other states.

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  9. Tom

    Wisconsin does not have a picture on the CCW license. You have to carry both it and your driver’s license or other photo ID anytime you carry

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  10. Troy

    Vermont is full Constitutional Carry. That is, they do not have a mechanism for lisensing. If a person may legally own a firearm, they may legally carry it in any manor they see fit.

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