Have you heard there is a federal law that allows someone with one concealed carry permit to carry in all 50 states? Sounds awesome right? Might not be as awesome as you think. The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the myths associated with this proposed legislation and give an update on its status.
Last November the US House of Representatives approved H.R. 822 by a vote of 272-154. The Bill was then sent to the US Senate where it sat until March 13th, when it was introduced to the Senate in the form of s. 2188. The NRA has been very outspoken about the potential benefits of this legislation, too outspoken. Very rarely will you hear me being critical of the NRA, but this is one of those times (brace yourself). Largely due to the stream of emails sent out by the NRA, many people in our classes are misinformed on many aspects of this potential law (many people we speak with believe it is already a law, which is dangerous). We have received hundreds of emails and phone calls from past students asking about the “new law” and the amount of misinformation we’ve heard is alarming to us. Don’t get me wrong, we love hearing from past students and we are always flattered when you reach out to us for advice, but there are some legitimate misunderstandings out there about the National Right to Carry Act, and we want to make sure that NO ONE does anything that might get them in legal trouble.
Many people we speak with believe this legislation would make it so one permit would be valid in all 50 states, like a driver’s license. That is absolutely not true, and it is important to understand what the law actually says.
H.R. 822 is intended to “amend title 18, United States Code, to provide a national standard in accordance with which nonresidents of a State may carry concealed firearms in the State.”
Subsection (a) says that anyone who (1) is not prohibited from possessing a gun under federal law AND (2) has a valid identification document containing a photograph in their possession AND (3) has a valid state issued license to carry a concealed handgun (from any state) may carry a concealed handgun in any state.
AWESOME RIGHT?!? As long as I have a photo ID & concealed permit then i’ll be able to carry in any state, what’s wrong with that???
The problem is the text of the H.R. 822 doesn’t stop there, if it did I agree it would be awesome. Instead it goes on to create two very big problems.
1: A permit holder would only be able to carry in a state that, “has a statute that allows residents of the State to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms.”
- The problem with the above text is that not only does it not change anything relating to Illinois (Illinois does not issue permits thus you still wouldn’t be able to carry in Illinois) BUT more importantly it provides an extreme incentive for restrictive states (like Maryland & California) to prohibit concealed carry altogether. Think about it, when faced with the following two choices, do you think that New Jersey and California (who are historically very restrictive in issuing concealed permits) are going to (1) open the floodgates to every freedom loving American to carry a gun, OR (2) simply prohibit concealed carry altogether. If this law passes, I’d wager we would see at least the following states completely prohibit concealed carry: California, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Hawaii, Delaware, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Nevada. In sum, we would see a regression in the amount of states that allow concealed carry and as sad as it is, any concealed carry is better than no concealed carry.
2: “The possession or carrying of a concealed hand-gun in a State under this section shall be subject to the same conditions and limitations … imposed by…State law or the law of a political subdivision of a State”
- What this means is that those middle-of-the-road states (like Oregon and South Carolina) which decide not to eliminate concealed carry altogether, but don’t necessarily want millions of visitors carrying guns, will likely make it SUBSTANTIALLY more difficult to carry a gun in their state. States like Oregon and South Carolina (among others) have historically been very opposed to allowing non-residents to carry within their state. Instead of suddenly opening the doors for everyone to carry, we will likely see state legislatures tightening the areas within the state where you are allowed to carry. Advancements that took years to accomplish could potentially vanish overnight due to an overly paranoid media frenzy.
There are some positives to this law. I like that concealed carry is being discussed on a national stage and I am glad it is making people more cognizant of the ridiculous patchwork of gun laws we have in America. However, I can’t imagine this legislation is the solution. To me, a much better option would be to pursue a judicial remedy for the right to bear arms much like the NRA and the SAF achieved for the right to keep arms (click here for a summary of the difference).
So, having said all of that, what is the status of this legislation? It is currently sitting in the Senate awaiting review by a committee and a floor vote. IF it clears the Senate (tough fight) then it will be sent back to the House for joint resolution before being sent to the President’s desk. To my knowledge President Obama has not issued a statement about veto, but if the president did wish to veto it then Congress would need a 2/3 majority (in either House, a total of 357 votes) to overcome the veto power. For now, we wait to see what the Senate will do.
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