Last month, Representative Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) promised to introduce a Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill in 2017. On the first day of the 115th Congress, Mr. Hudson introduced his bill, and it’s even better than the rough draft that was circulated in November. Mr. Hudson had this to say about the event:
Our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is a common sense solution to a problem too many Americans face. It will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits. As a member of President-elect Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the administration to get this legislation across the finish line.
The bill — known as the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, states that any person carrying a valid concealed firearms license and a valid photo ID may carry a concealed handgun in any state that allows its residents to apply for licenses, or which generally doesn’t prohibit the carriage of concealed firearms by residents.
The bill also offers a safe harbor for residents of states that have unlicensed “constitutional carry” for their residents; those persons would only need to carry a valid photo ID. This is especially helpful for residents of Vermont, where unlicensed carry is the law of the land, but no voluntary licensing program is available for reciprocity purposes, as in other states.
There were a few changes from the draft of the bill that was circulated back in November. First of all, the bill contains this little definitional gem:
The term ‘handgun’ includes any magazine for use in a handgun and any ammunition loaded into the handgun or its magazine.
Since the bill makes liberal (heh) use of the word “handgun” throughout (e.g., “a person may possess or carry a concealed handgun”) one might call this little provision the “take that, New Jersey, with all of your sad, useless laws banning common defense rounds and inert boxes made of metal and plastic that can carry eleven cartridges” clause.
I also note that the bill is very precisely worded with regard to existing state laws prohibiting the possession of firearms in certain areas. To wit:
This section shall not be construed to supersede or limit the laws of any State that—
(1) permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property; or
(2) prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park.
That handles the obvious cases, like when a state bars the possession of firearms by non-LEO types in police stations or public schools, but some states have some prohibition laws that go above and beyond government property. Michigan, for instance, forbids the concealed carry of a pistol even with a valid Concealed Pistol License in privately-owned businesses such as bars and “entertainment facilit[ies] with a seating capacity of 2,500 or more.” Might the statute be construed to supersede those laws?
The bill also permits the carriage of a firearm into areas open to the public in the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation — another change from the November draft.
Can this bill be passed as it is? Heck if I know, but I hope so. You can bet that Congresscritters from states like New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California will howl like Georgia during a Sherman family road trip, even though the idea of national reciprocity commands a lot of support in the country. The question is whether supporters can muster a filibuster-cracking 60 votes in the Senate.
Still, stranger things have happened. Most of last year, for instance.