Sean Heisey, York Daily Record
Joanna Allhands: National reciprocity is a good idea for gun owners. But even if the bill passes the House, it will die a miserable, political death in the Senate.
How excited (or freaked out, depending on your politics) should you be about a bill to make all states recognize valid concealed-carry permits?
The attorneys general of 24 states, including Arizona, have signed a letter making a convincing legal argument for Congress to act.
H.R. 38 has an impressive 213 co-sponsors (including three Democrats) and passed the House on Wednesday, 231-198.
But I’m not holding my breath for it to become law, because it now has to pass the Senate with at least eight Democrats supporting it. And … yeah. That’s not going to happen.
Not now, at least.
Who can carry where is confusing
National reciprocity – the idea that any state should honor another state’s concealed carry permits – has long been atop the wish list of gun-rights advocates. And for good reason.
There are 16.3 million concealed-carry permit holders nationwide, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. That’s a 256 percent increase since 2007.
Yet while every state has laws allowing concealed carry of a firearm, how they grant that right varies widely. Some states, like California, allow law-enforcement discretion when issuing permits, which means they more or less deny them to anybody who can’t prove their life is in imminent danger.
Other states, like Indiana, require permits but issue them to anyone who meets the criteria, while other states, like Arizona, are “constitutional carry” states – which means they may still issue permits but don’t require them for anyone who can legally possess a firearm to carry concealed.
Not surprisingly, that has led to a confusing mishmash of states honoring other states’ permits.
Arizona honors all states’ permits, for example. But other states, including California, don’t recognize permits issued in any other states. Still others impose additional requirements before they will recognize out-of-state permits.
It gets even more complicated because who honors what is constantly changing. There’s a reason there are multiple websites dedicated to where you can carry – and why most of them contain disclaimers that to be safe, you should call the state to which you are traveling to double-check their requirements first.
The legal justification for H.R. 38
H.R. 38 would simplify that. Any state’s permits would be good in any other state, so it would at least eliminate that guesswork. You’d be covered to carry a concealed handgun in other states as long as you have your permit and a valid picture ID.
The bill also applies to people in constitutional carry states, which means even if you don’t have a permit but are legally allowed to carry concealed in Arizona, you can do so in other states, as long as you have a picture ID and follow the local laws for carrying.
The argument, as outlined by the state attorneys general, relies heavily on District of Columbia vs. Heller, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that determined the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess firearms for their self-defense.
“States should not be able to deny citizens of other States the basic constitutional right to self-defense,” the attorneys general wrote.
H.R. 38 would not allow felons and other prohibited possessors to carry concealed handguns. They’re not legally allowed to have a firearm now, and that would not change.
Governmental and private entities could continue to ban firearms on their property. So it’s not like people with permits from out of state (or those without permits from constitutional carry states) could legally walk armed into a bar or a park or a courthouse where firearms are already banned.
The bill also just applies to handguns, not the so-called “assault rifles” that so many people worry about.
Why both bills are destined to fail
Of course, none of that has placated the anti-gun folks, who say such a law would compromise public safety even though statistics suggest concealed-carry permit holders are less likely to commit crimes than the general population.
Really, what they fear is a loss of control over who carries firearms in their states. They say national reciprocity would weaken their laws – and, actually, they have a point.
If H.R. 38 became law, and California was forced to honor out-of-state permits, residents who had been turned down for concealed-carry permits in California because they weren’t in imminent danger could apply for permits in Arizona – which does not require applicants to be Arizona residents – and use them in California.
And boy, wouldn’t that just burn the state’s anti-gun crowd?
Senate Democrats have already said national reciprocity is a nonstarter. And they are blasting their colleagues in the House for combining it with the Fix NICS Act, a bill with rare bipartisan support that adds additional pressure to federal and state agencies to report people to the national background check system.
In this political climate, where even the stuff we all agree on can’t seem to pass, I don’t see at least eight Democrats breaking ranks in the Senate to vote yes on the combined bill.
So, both ideas will likely fail. Both sides of the gun debate will blame each other for their demise.
And, in other news, water is wet and the sky is blue.
Reach Allhands at firstname.lastname@example.org.
READ MORE FROM ALLHANDS:
Is the Supreme Court ready to go big on guns?
Court says a gun’s looks matter more than its function
Gun community, don’t stay silent on 9-year-old’s death
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