Your right to self-defense shouldn’t end at state borders

This Labor Day weekend, many families will pack up the car for one last road trip to the beach, lake or park before summer ends. Unfortunately, many of them will have to check their right to self-defense at the state border. Thankfully, there is legislation making its way through Congress that would fix this.

The bill is the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 822) and it would allow any person with a valid, state-issued concealed firearm permit to exercise their right to carry a firearm in any other state that affords that right to its own residents.

The bill was introduced by Congressmen Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Shuler (D-NC) and it currently has 242 co-sponsors and the full backing of the National Rifle Association. By any benchmark, H.R. 822 has overwhelming bipartisan support.

Currently, 49 states have laws that permit concealed carry in some form or another. In all but eight of those states, the average, law-abiding citizen can carry a firearm without having to navigate an overly restrictive — and in some cases intentionally impossible — bureaucratic process. Only the state of Illinois completely forbids its citizens from carrying concealed firearms outside their homes and workplaces.

The problem is that interstate recognition of these various permits is not uniform. Some states have broad laws in place that liberally recognize permit holders from other states. Other states are more restrictive, and still others refuse to recognize any state’s permit but their own. This can create issues for travelers.

The National Right-to-Carry Act would solve this problem by requiring the various states that allow concealed carry to recognize each other’s permits — much in the same way they recognize each other’s driver’s licenses.

Imagine if America treated state driver’s licenses the same way we treat the right to carry, and every time you drove across a state line you weren’t sure if you were allowed to legally operate a vehicle in that state. If you knew you weren’t allowed to operate a vehicle in a certain state, you simply couldn’t drive there.

There are some who agree with the spirit of H.R. 822 but are concerned that it would create a “federal gun licensing” system. This is simply not true. The bill explicitly protects the right of each state to issue its own permits and determine its own rules and regulations with regard to concealed carry — such as where carrying is prohibited and where it’s allowed.

This is similar to how one highway can have different speed limits, depending on the state in which you’re driving. You can drive on the highway regardless of which state you’re from, but you are required to obey each state’s basic rules of the road.

Others have voiced concern that H.R. 822 would violate the Tenth Amendment right of every state to make its own laws. Again, this is not the case. The Second Amendment guarantees the fundamental, individual right of every law-abiding citizen to bear arms. This is an inalienable right that neither the federal government, nor any state government, may infringe upon. And in fact, the 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to protect citizens from state infringement of their constitutional rights.

Our basic right to self-defense has been recognized in law for centuries. We shouldn’t be forced to forfeit this right at the state line. Call your representative today and ask if he or she is a cosponsor of H.R. 822. If the answer is yes, please thank them and urge them do what they can to push this bill forward.

If the answer is no, then please urge them to become a co-sponsor today, and to support your fundamental right to defend yourself and your loved ones … regardless of which state you happen to be passing through.

Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and serves as the organization’s chief lobbyist.

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  • TheProRifle

    The drivers license versus carry permit comparison is an understatement. Driving is a “privilege”. Keeping and baring arms is a constitutional “right”. 10A is not infringed by a permit that crosses boarders because state laws are required to be legal under federal law. 2A is infringed everyday by state law and it is illegal!

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  • Double Tap 45

    The text of HR 822 MUST be amended to FORCE areas with “shall issue” laws to recognize ANY out of state CCW permits even from their OWN RESIDENTS!!!! I can just see the upsurge in Utah/Pennsylvania non-resident classes and licenses.

    Ray from Bloombergia
    NRA Life Member
    Soli Deo Gloria!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ULT34A5I7PQ5FIGDT6DM2ZNMVE Peter Merkin

    As others have pointed out, in the 8 “may issue” states it is practically impossible to obtain a CCW permit.  In NJ it is impossible for anyone other than retired LEO and a smattering of connected politicians and others with sufficient pull.  This reciprocity bill, if passed, would allow out of staters with CCW permits to carry in NJ, but would NOT allow NJ residentes with out of state permits to carry.  That is outrageous!  The bill needs to be modified so that anyone with an out of state permit can carry in any state, including his home state.  Also, the federal government needs to be prepared to stand behind this bill.  If it passes, and someone carries in in New York City relying on an out of state permit, I can guarantee that the DAs office in NY will find a way to prosecute that person regardless of the law.  The DOJ and the Federal goverment will need to intervene.

  • http://twitter.com/Jackjp2 Jack Presti

    Speaking as a retired Police Officer, this bill needs to be passed. It is such a shame that when traveling from state to state law abiding citizens become felons because they take their personal safety serious. The laws should be uniform and allow one to carry nation wide. The Liberals in NY have been blocked this law in the past, Chuck Shumer is the worst. They don’t belive in gun but have highest murder rates with handguns because the criminals have them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C5ZHCQLKIVQPLQVJZHPGZXW4OI Robert Osborn

    As Governor of  Illinois, Quinn needs to get with the rest of the nation and end the practice of not allowing citizens of Illinois to be able to defend themselves with a concealed gun. The more citizens that are armed the less likely a criminal will take the chance of committing a violent crime against a person. Criminals like the anti-gun laws in Illinois, they know they won’t be shot by the law abiding citizen in Illinois especially outside of a home and most people outside are open season for criminals to rape, mug, or rob or kill.

  • Dotycrew

    I live in Illinois and know that they are not going to give anyone the right to carry, any time soon.
    I wish they would get their heads out of the sand long enough to see what’s going on.  there are more weapons being carried around in cars and trucks that they want to know about and should understand that sometimes you need the protection.  therefore HR822 needs to be allowed if there is going to be any control