For law-abiding, knowledgeable, and very conscientious-licensed concealed carry firearm folks, it is a very big hassle now to travel from your home state to other states, determine the applicable concealed carry (cc) laws, their requirements, and carry your self-defense handgun across state lines in the United States. You have to wonder are we really “united” in the same direction for our common self-defense purpose? Currently, there are many different and conflicting state and local laws implementing our Second Amendment and U.S. Constitutional Right to keep and bear arms in the United States. Yes, you can list the states that have “reciprocity” with your home state where you earned and received your cc license/permit. But, no state has reciprocity with ALL the other states. None have reciprocity with more than about 34 other states. Most states have reciprocity with only about 15 to 20 other states. Some have NO reciprocity with any other state (e.g. California.)
At this time, there are 5 states that have Constitutional Carry laws: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont, and Wyoming, with others pending in Colorado, New Hampshire, Kansas, Mississippi, and Montana. Five states have NO license/permit requirements for cc (e.g. West Virginia is pending this week to be the sixth state.)
The various states interpret things differently, define terms vaguely in some cases, the scopes and applicability of laws vary greatly, and there are different requirements and penalties. Some states even issue cc licenses (e.g. Florida), while most issue cc permits. Some states require live-fire demonstration of competency with a firearm (e.g. Florida), while others do NOT (e.g. Oregon) to earn the license/permit. Utah, Florida, and Arizona issue multi-state, non-resident cc firearm licenses/permits that have NO state residency requirement and may be obtained by any legal resident of the United States. A student recently traveled from California to attend my Florida class, since the Florida cc weapons license was the only non-resident license available then to California residents that will allow them to legally carry in Florida. Should there be a universal cc law and/or license/permit? Should one state’s cc license/permit be recognized and accepted by ALL states?
The confusion and contradictions lead law-abiding gun owners to inadvertently butt heads with the law when they exercise their right to self-protection while traveling among states or temporarily living away from home.
An example is the Philadelphia, PA lady in August 2014 who obtained the necessary cc permit to carry her handgun in Pennsylvania, but was arrested in New Jersey for unlawful possession of a weapon. She was facing three years in prison for innocently disclosing that she had a firearm in her purse and a PA carry license for it to the New Jersey police officer who arrested her after a routine traffic stop. New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and does NOT recognize carry permits from any other state.
Should our fundamental right to self-defense stop at the border of the state we live in? Should there be limitations or complete restriction on our right to defend ourselves when we cross our home state’s border? What a headache and you with the license or permit must keep track of the laws in all the states you travel across or temporarily live in, ergo you might break the law. Wouldn’t it be convenient and less complex, if one state’s cc license/permit was accepted by ALL states? What if there was one recognized license/permit (maybe even with the same requirements to apply with the same scope and definitions, authorities, and applicable laws and penalties)? Do you think this can happen?
The term “Constitutional Carry” refers to the legal carrying of handguns (weapons are defined differently among several states), either openly or concealed, without the requirement for a government license/permit. There is a bill currently in both sides of Congress called the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2015 that supports the Second Amendment. It was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and in the U.S. House by Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.). I understand that it is not intended to override existing state cc laws or to dictate national standards for cc. Further, it is my understanding that it will merely ensure that ALL states respect and honor other states’ cc licenses/permits issued by other states. There would be true reciprocity among ALL states. The Act is not a law now and several believe that currently it will not become a law in the present political climate. That if it does pass in the Senate and in the House, it will likely be vetoed. However, some are striving with much effort for it. But others like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are striving against it.
In essence, it would allow those with present legal cc authorization in their home state to carry their handguns across state lines, as long as the states have their own cc rights. It would be like a state’s driver’s license now. Currently, you do not need a vehicle driver’s license from each state that you travel through. It would be nice to NOT have to get a cc license/permit or meet vastly divergent requirements from each state you travel through or spend time in with your cc handgun. You can probably see that this is a prime target for anti-gunners and other related issues.
Think about this universal cc reciprocity among all states. Investigate these new bills, research them, and decide for yourself. To me the idea of reciprocity among all states for cc self-defense is valid and a necessary step to support our Second Amendment rights. Do you agree? Please think about this, make your decision, then contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative SOON. If you agree ask them to support Senate Bill 498 and House Bill 923. I hope you agree with me that these very important bills need our immediate attention and action. As Horace said “Carpe Diem!”
CONTACT U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative at:
Photo by author.
This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney in your state or jurisdiction for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, stand your ground law, and concealed carry. This is not legal advice and not legal opinions. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2015 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.