Score a win for the Second Amendment this week—a key House committee approved a bill to expand gun owners’ rights on Wednesday that would institute national concealed carry reciprocity.
The bill, H.R. 38, cleared the House Judiciary Committee and says that anyone with a state-issued concealed carry permit from their home state can legally carry in any state, that also allows concealed firearms.
“The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act ensures that law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment right does not end when they cross state lines,” said Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) in a statement. “Citizens with a state-issued concealed carry license or permit, or individuals who are citizens of states that do not require a permit to carry a concealed firearm, should not have to worry about losing these rights when entering another state that may have different rules and regulations.”
This story from guns.com says the measure has 213 co-sponsors, including a few Democrats and the support of attorneys general from five states.
This version of the bill doesn’t only grant reciprocity for concealed carry permits and licenses, but also allows residents of constitutional or permitless carry states to be recognized. It also opens public land, currently off limits, to concealed carry.
Of course, anti-gun protesters were on hand to protest the bill.
Those most vocal in opposition hail from states like New York and New Jersey, where concealed carry permits are rarely issued and tightly controlled. If the bill were to pass, it would mean out-of-state visitors would be able to legally carry in New Jersey or New York City, while most residents would not be allowed to.
“The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would be, I think, the single most destructive bill we could pass to affect the public safety we have achieved, and affect it negatively,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance in this story from ny1.com. “Individuals could come in with loaded weapons into New York City, and probably hundreds of thousands when you consider we have 46 million visitors outside the United States into New York.”
Interesting that he speaks as if currently nobody could physically bring a loaded firearm into the city of New York. While the city has seen a marked decrease in shootings, and all crime for that matter, there were still about 1,000 shootings in the city in 2016, according to nydailnews.com. Law abiding, permitted gun owners should not have an impact on that.
Currently, concealed carry laws are governed by a confusing patchwork of state laws and rules that can be extremely difficult to navigate when traveling across state lines. Some states recognize permits from other states, and vice versa, but some states don’t recognize any other state’s permit but their own, like New Jersey. So, even passing through such a state for a concealed carrier becomes quite difficult to do legally.
A number of high profile cases have been widely reported in which hapless out-of-state gun owners have fallen victim to NJ’s strict gun laws, some even being charged with felonies and facing significant jail time simply for having a gun in their car, even though they were licensed to carry concealed in their home states.
The guns.com story says the measure could receive a floor vote in the House as early as next week, while its Senate companion bill has 38 supporters, all Republican.
Additionally, this week the same committee also advanced the new “Fix NICS” act, which would add accountability measures designed to ensure that federal agencies submit the records of criminals, domestic abusers and others prohibited from possessing guns to the FBI-maintained system while giving states incentives to up their own reporting.
The bill was introduced in light of the recent shooting at a Texas church. The gunman passed a NICS background check to buy the rifle he used in the shooting, because the Air Force had failed to submit his criminal and mental health records to the system.
The bill, H.R. 4477, predictably has more bi-partisan support than the Reciprocity bill.
“There is simply no excuse for the ongoing negligence of criminal history reporting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” said the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. John Culberson, a Texas Republican, in the story.