The official Congressional website doesn’t have the text of Texas Senator John Cornyn’s bill S.446 (Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017). Fortunately, freebeacon.com has uploaded a pdf of it. Click here to read it.
My hot take on Sen. Cornyn’s bill is that it is not identical to Rep. Richard Hudson’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill introduced in January. While both bills would enact national reciprocity for holders of firearms carry licenses, there are a couple of differences.
(1) Constitutional Carry residents need a license. There’s no safe harbor for Constitutional Carry in the Senate bill. If you’re a resident of a Constitutional Carry state, and you want to carry in a different state, you do have to get a license. Now, it doesn’t require those residents to obtain a license from their home state –residents of the original Constitutional Carry state, Vermont, will be okay if they get a license from Utah or other non-resident friendly locale under the Senate version.
(2) This isn’t the bill New Jersey gun owners were hoping for. Rep. Hudson’s bill was very carefully worded in residency-neutral language to allow the possibility that ordinary citizens behind the lead curtain in places like New Jersey or Hawaii that only issue carry licenses to the connected and wealthy.
I discussed some of the potential problems with this seemingly neat idea here. The Senate version doesn’t go there. It states in pretty plain language that it applies to individuals carrying a concealed firearm “in any state other than the state of residence of the individual….” In other words, it’s saying: not your home state. (The analogous paragraph in Rep. Hudson’s bill put the period after “in any state.” It also includes a “rule of construction” that states:
Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt any provision of State law with respect to the issuance of licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms.
(3) No property games. Rep. Hudson’s bill included some carefully worded language concerning property, which I also mentioned in an earlier article, potentially giving a foothold to argue against state bans on carry that aren’t on state property (such as bans on concealed carry in bars or houses of worship.) The Senate version openly embraces State law here, stating very clearly that State law must be followed in all of its particulars.
(4) Unrestricted licenses. The Senate bill makes it clear that, in the event a State issues multiple classes of carry licenses (I gather some states in New England like Rhode Island do, and know that the U.S. Virgin Islands does as well,) the out-of-state licenses have to be treated as though they were ‘unrestricted’ licenses. This wasn’t in Rep. Hudson’s bill, and is a good addition, as it provides clarity on something that, frankly, there’s no reason to leave to the discretion of local cops and magistrates.
In short, the Senate version doesn’t quite have the ‘reaching for the brass ring’ feel of Rep. Hudson’s bill. It’s also a little more respectful of State sovereignty than the House bill. These aren’t necessarily bad things.
Don’t forget: these are only just initial drafts. The bills may both change significantly as they go through committee. Stay tuned for more updates.