National Right to Carry Act – The problems and benefits

Posted: March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

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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  1. Ted Walker says:

    You omitted the part that said the Feds would create and monitor PERMITS—means we all have to re-apply, pay new fees (how high??), be subject to discretionary eliminations or delays, and who knows what other restrictions. The Feds are notorious for loading up on restrictions that water down rights.

    • kevin says:

      I’ve seen no indication that the Feds would have anything to do with the permitting system.

      Who would administer such a monstrosity? They have nothing to do with the current driver-licensing nor professional licensing systems.

      Some misinformed speculator made that up.

      • Legal Heat says:

        I think Ted is referring to Sections 3 & 4 of the Bill. Essentially the Government Accountability Office (more specifically the Comptroller General) will be vested with the authority to audit the current permitting procedures of the various states and submit a report to congress. He will also submit a report on the ability of law enforcement to verify a permit’s validity. This doesn’t mean that there would be a federal permit, or that they would make any changes over permitting procedures, but the very fact that the Comptroller would be “submitting findings” to congress is troubling to many, myself included.

  2. kevin says:

    I would be much more pleased to see the Federal law prohibiting “school” carry abrogated.

    At a MINIMUM, the removal of this idiotic thousand-foot zone or the qualifier that a permit must be issued by one’s state of residence. No matter if they do pass the nationwide-carry reciprocity it is nearly impossible to carry outside of your own state through any town or city without violating federal law with these thousands of overlapping “school-zones” Most states also interpret school as broadly as possible so as to prohibit carry almost everywhere.

    When might THAT ever happen? Is this even being addressed or is the national reciprocity simply another NRA P.R. ploy?

    • Legal Heat says:

      Spot on! There are a plethora of issues inherent in the way this is written, not the least of which are the potential federal charges stemming from the gun free schools zone act. One of our biggest gripes about how the NRA has put this forth is they often put the cart before the Ox, they have not addressed that issue (or any of the other aforementioned issues) to my knowledge.

  3. kevin says:

    I guess if one had a permit issued by *every* state in which one travels, the “thousand-foot” rule wouldn’t be an issue but that is not a realistic solution since may states will not issue a permit to a non-resident. Further, I don’t think a firearm can even be in a vehicle *on* property *owned* by a school -whatever that is in each case, regardless of permit.

    I cannot take a weapon of any sort with me when I go on a research trip even to a national forest because I would either be staying at a univ. research station which is a “school” -or- it would be considered a “school sponsored event”. I go to remote places where you can’t even *call* for emergency help because there is no phone service and help would be an hour away but what price can we put on the safety of “the children”? -My life, I guess. Ridiculous.

    I sure hope that the lunatics, bears, snakes, and cougars continue to behave themselves in the future as my family is disarmed by the law.

  4. Jake says:

    I can understand how involvement on the federal end would maybe benefit our individual rights but at the same time, does anyone want the federal government involving themselves in our business any more than they already have? Its time for states to start deciding on their own how to deal with their own problems and concerns. I heard Oregon in the discussion and I gotta say, forget them. They are a state that wont let people pump their own gas. The residents in Oregon should forget about gun laws, its too late for them.

  5. Gil says:

    This concern sounds okay with Ron Paul fans who believe States ought to have independent rights from the Federal Government. In other words, even if the 2nd Amendment really meant the Federal Government can’t interfere with the right of people own any weapon they choose then it has no effect on the State Governments and they\re free to decide what weapons can be banned or regulated.

  6. MamaLiberty says:

    I live in a state that does not currently require a “permit” to carry concealed. We are very concerned about having the feds involved in this. The set back could be enormous.

  7. FrankInFL says:

    New York doesn’t need to worry. Their permits actually cite by make, model, and serial, which firearms are permitted to be carried. If you live in a state like Florida which doesn’t even HAVE a registration mechanism, you won’t have a list of which firearms are permitted and you STILL won’t be able to carry in NYS.

    Other places by extension.