After months of inaction, the House Judiciary Committee is set to act on national concealed carry reciprocity legislation Wednesday, a move that gun rights activists across the country have been waiting for since January.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-SC) has 213 co-sponsors, all but three who are Republicans. The three Democrats are Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Henry Cuellar of Texas and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
Gun prohibition lobbying groups have been raising alarms about the legislation for months. Among the arguments against the bill is that it “would allow people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public throughout the country without ever getting a permit, having passed a background check or receiving gun safety training.” The legislation may be read here, and there is a proposed substitute offered by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte that may be read here.
The action comes on the heels of a disappointing decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not hear cases challenging a ban on so-called “assault weapons” in Maryland and open carry in Florida. How the legislation fares before the full House, if it passes out of the Judiciary Committee, will likely see a split along party lines. It is expected to face stiff opposition from Democrats representing states with very restrictive gun laws including New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland and Connecticut.
Many Second Amendment activists have pointed to cases such as the Shaneen Allen incident as ample reason to pass this legislation. Allen was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania but on a trip to attend a function in neighboring New Jersey, she was stopped by a police officer. She declared that she had her pistol and was arrested because New Jersey does not recognize out-of-state carry permits and has extremely tight gun control laws. Only a pardon by Gov. Chris Christie saved the single mother from imprisonment, but the case exposed New Jersey’s harsh approach to gun control.
There are an estimated 16.5 million Americans who are licensed to carry concealed sidearms in the United States. Many states have individual reciprocity agreements with other states, but there is no national recognition, which may seem counterintuitive since gun control advocates have, for years, argued that guns should be licensed and registered just like cars. They have not, however, included in that argument that concealed carry licenses or permits be honored across state lines.
In an alert to its members Monday, the National Rifle Association noted, “Concealed carry reciprocity is the NRA’s highest legislative priority in Congress. It would ensure that states recognize the concealed carry credentials of other states. This would end abuses in anti-gun states like New York and New Jersey and allow law-abiding concealed carriers to exercise their rights nationwide with peace of mind.”