Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: National Concealed Carry Reciprocity This Term? Not So Fast.

By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

Donald Trump promised national concealed carry reciprocity during his term. Currently the National Rifle Association is in the midst of putting together a heavy push to get a bill that creates national concealed carry reciprocity a reality. It’s been an enormous talking point among gun rights activists, concerned citizens and certainly the related blogospheres for these topics.

There have been a number of bills drafted in the House of Representatives aimed at establishing this very thing over the years. Few have even made it out of committee, let alone being allowed to die on the floor.

Obviously, it’s unfair that a person who is following the law inside one arbitrarily-drawn set of lines on a map can become a criminal, in fact a felon, inside a different set of arbitrarily-drawn set of lines. A lot of people who responsibly carry with their concealed carry holster and permit on them are none too fond of this idea.

In fact, that’s led to an entire industry of state-compliant training being offered for non-resident licenses to gain additional license reciprocity. Nearly every state in the union has courses that will qualify for Utah, Arizona and a few other state permits for exactly this reason.

However, the hurdles between here and the finish line are larger and more complicated than one might think.

More than one person has mused that since driver license reciprocity is universal, concealed pistol licenses should be too. On paper, sure – but it isn’t actually that simple. You see, the various states all agree voluntarily to recognize driver’s licenses and continue to do so largely because the laws governing driver’s licenses are quite uniform. Most states require about the same amount of training or sufficient age be attained before being eligible to get the license and traffic laws are virtually the same as well.

Since there’s little difference in what it takes to get a license in California as there is in, say, Delaware…it’s no big deal if residents from the latter state take a road trip to the former. Heck, they even let people rent cars in Hawaii, which back in the day was about the only way you’d ever find yourself driving a Suzuki Samurai.

Concealed carry licenses and indeed gun laws, however, are not uniform. Granted, a good number of states indeed do have have similar laws, but not all. As a result, it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Also, and this is an important distinction, the states only recognize other driver’s licenses voluntarily; there’s no federal mandate for them to do so.

Additionally, there is also the sticky wicket of compelling states that don’t necessarily wish to recognize either a license with less-stringent requirements of their own or any other license altogether.

Currently, the only other law that comes close to federally-mandated reciprocity is the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (or LEOSA) which does mandate that states recognize police and federal agent’s need and right to have a firearm for work purposes, since the LEOSA only guarantees having a firearm if traveling for legitimate work purposes.

However, that law has not been universally well-received; a number of states are known for being unaccommodating to traveling law enforcement and a number of officers have been arrested for possessing a firearm in other states regardless of the act’s existence. So if even police have a hard time finding reciprocation…the less hospitable states will still be less than hospitable for the average citizen.

Federal legislation concerning firearms has heretofore been relatively silent on the matter of carrying, except for gun-free zones. (Federal law actually allows concealed carry on school grounds with a state permit; it’s the states that prohibit carry on school grounds for permit holders.) A national reciprocity law could conceivably become a 10th Amendment issue.

As a result, a national concealed carry reciprocity law this year, or even this term…is not as easy a prospect as just getting Congress to pass it. However, that doesn’t mean it still shouldn’t happen.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.