Gun Laws & Legislation

CCW Weekend: How Concealed Carry Reciprocity Is Not The Same As Driver’s License Reciprocity

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Sam Hoober, GunBelts.com

More than one person – including the very person writing this article – has said that it doesn’t make sense for concealed carry reciprocity to be less widespread than driver’s license reciprocity.

Why wouldn’t someone think that? It’s perfectly logical. After all, both involve licenses. Both are issued by every state – though some states basically say they issue licenses though they rarely ever do. Cars are likewise just as dangerous as guns, as the number of people killed in car crashes every year is about the same as the number of people who die from gunshot wounds.

Granted, a good number of people will say that “the Second Amendment is my permit!” or something to that effect. While there’s certainly logic to that position, it isn’t likely to hold up in court any time soon in jurisdictions that require permits.

That said, why is it that driver’s licenses are reciprocated by all states – and even many other countries – but concealed carry licenses aren’t? It certainly would make things simpler. However, there are resources for making CCW reciprocity easy to learn about – such as the Alien Gear concealed carry reciprocity map.

Largely, it has to do with the fact that driver’s licenses for citizens aren’t issued by the federal government. Since those issues that aren’t federally regulated, they are delegated to the various states, much like the concealed carry permit reciprocity issue.

Instead, drivers have to rely on an interstate compact, which is an agreement between several (or all) states to do something. In the case of driver’s licenses, it’s to recognize each other member state’s license to a driver. The agreement itself is called the Driver’s License Compact, which was initially enacted in the 1960s. All but a few states joined the DLC, though the states that didn’t join maintain informal or statutory agreements to recognize other states’ licenses.

Additionally, another component of the DLC is enforcement, though exactly what that entails varies from state to state. Some will add points to licenses on a points system if a driver gets an infraction in another state, some will suspend licenses for nonpayment of fines in another state, it all depends.

One thing to bear in mind is that interstate compacts are entered into voluntarily; the reason for the DLC’s existence was that several states began getting the idea to have formal recognition of other state’s driver’s licenses and thus created a framework for it of their own volition, and it was entirely supererogatory – they weren’t federally required to do so.

Neither are states required to recognize concealed carry licenses, which leads us to the current state of affairs. Some states have taken the initiative, agreeing to recognize any valid license issued by another state. Others, such as Vermont and Maine, require no license for residents or non-residents.

However, some attempts have been made to redress the issue. A number of federal reciprocity bills have been submitted but have gone nowhere. A new one is currently in the House of Representatives, according to Breitbart. The bill, HR 923, was introduced by Representative Marlin Stutzman, a Republican from Indiana’s Third District. The bill, if passed into law, would extend national reciprocity to any valid permit holder.

The bill has garnered 80 co-sponsors at the time of this writing. The bill is off to a strong start, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will successfully pass the House, let alone the Senate and go to the President’s desk for a signature. A number of previous bills of this nature have been introduced in Congress, but nothing has ever come of them; most die ignominiously in committee.

Regardless, many citizens tire of enjoying one version of a right in one area and not in another.

Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for GunBelts.com, a subsidiary of Hayden-based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips.