I’m not a lawyer. I’m just a guy who likes guns and has done some reading on the proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. There are many smarter folks out there who know way more about this than do I. However, researching the subject was an enlightening exercise.
So just what exactly changes if national reciprocity becomes law? Not as much as you might hope. Most of us likely won’t notice much different. For others it will be a fresh taste of freedom.
Places with sucky gun laws still have sucky gun laws. Magazine restrictions, storage requirements and prohibited locations remain in effect. Any local restrictions on possessing and carrying a weapon remain enforceable. My gut feeling is that state legislatures in places like New Jersey, Illinois and California would leap into action to enact further restrictions on their already put-upon citizens in an effort at taking the teeth out of the federal law. In the near term, however, the national effect would be positive and fairly simple.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity Background
Article 4, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution requires states to give “full faith and credit” to the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” That is the reason you don’t find yourself suddenly unmarried when you visit a neighboring state. It is also the reason state troopers in all 50 states respect your driver’s license even when you are off on vacation. This basic concept is imminently sensible and applies to pretty much everything in American culture. That is everything except the right to bear arms specifically delineated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
This deep into the Information Age it is at least theoretically possible to acquire a concealed carry permit in all 50 states. It is simply that in certain draconian places — like New Jersey — there is such animus between the government and the people that concealed carry applications are denied for literally any reason. As a result, very few permits are actually issued.
What the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would do is force states that have restrictive rules concerning concealed carry to recognize the many permits from other states that do not.
There is concern on the left that citizens of restrictive states might obtain an out-of-state permit for the sole purpose of circumventing the draconian rules in their own locales. I think that’s a great idea. It’s a shame that someone would have to go to such lengths to exercise a right granted by the U.S. Constitution. However, that is indeed the world in which we live.
It Really Is Bad
I was recently asked to pen an article on self-defense weapons that could be used in places with restrictive gun laws. Think New Jersey and California. I had to pass on the project. After some extensive research I just couldn’t find anything that you could reasonably and legally use as a weapon in those places.
Imagine carrying something innocuous like a screwdriver. If you use this common tool as a weapon, you are screwed (pun intended). The laws really do seem to be crafted specifically to leave law-abiding citizens helpless in the face of criminals.
You poor shmucks who live in those wretched places really do have my pity. I couldn’t do it. Once you’ve tasted freedom in places like Mississippi you can never go back.
I hate to keep harping on New Jersey, but you guys suck worse than most. Just Google “New Jersey Innocent Weapon Violations” if you need something terrifying to keep you up at night.
There’s the single mom who was arrested for having a gun locked in her hard-sided baggage.
Another poor guy never intended to go to New Jersey, but had his plane diverted to the Garden State due to mechanical problems. He dutifully gathered his checked baggage that contained a secured handgun. Then airline put him up in a local hotel. When he tried to check his gun back in at the airline counter the following morning, he went to jail.
Then there’s the 72-year-old man arrested for possession of a 300-year-old flintlock pistol during a traffic stop. Yep, you read that right. A 72-year-old guy with a 300-year-old pistol was determined to be such a menace to society that he had to go to jail simply for having it.
It is such narrow foolishness that the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act attempts to address. If passed and signed, an out-of-state concealed carry holder passing through New Jersey could lawfully possess and carry his otherwise legally owned firearm independent of state boundaries. However, keep in mind that the rules about firearm possession are still convoluted in these places.
We would yet still have to be careful not to run afoul of these many labyrinthine local restrictions. The poor guy with the flintlock is a good example. As he is a New Jersey resident, he would still be doomed even if the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act passed unless he held a valid permit from some other state.
There are some smart folks on our side of the political fence who oppose this bill. Their arguments are that establishing concealed carry reciprocity potentially establishes a national standard. That national standard might be more restrictive than is the case in some places like my home state of Mississippi, which is one of 12 states in our great republic that allow concealed carry without a permit.
There are also concerns about federal law trumping states’ rights. However, the concept of states’ rights died more than a century ago. To live in the kind of regulation-intensive world we enjoy today and push back against federal encroachment on most anything is akin to shoving against the tides. National reciprocity seems, at its heart, to orbit around forcing backwards states to begrudgingly respect the U.S. Constitution.
What Does the Other Side Think?
EveryTownReasearch.org is their website. Billionaire and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the money behind it. Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” mandated that to be victorious, one must know one’s enemy. Perusing Everytown’s dogma is a fascinating trek through places where the rules of human nature apparently do not apply.
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The primary anecdote around which their argument is built orbits around some Aryan Nation low-life in Idaho named Jason Kenneth Hamilton. Side note: Why do losers like this guy always seem to have three names?) This guy somehow scored a CCW. After that, he went on to kill his wife, maim a puppy, murder a police officer, hide in a church and shoot a pastor before committing suicide. This guy was, by all objective standards, utterly despicable in every quantifiable way.
There is a fascinating implication, however. Everytown suggests that Hamilton would not have done any of these things had he not been in possession of a card issued by the state that authorized him to carry a concealed weapon. Does any sensible person really think that having a CCW in any way empowered this puppy-maiming, pastor-shooting loser to pursue his life of crime? Ours is a nation of 315 million people. They base their hypotheses on tiny sample sizes, which is a thoroughly discredited concept in science.
I’ll let Everytown make my point for me. Bad guys are bad. They will carry guns, rob people and generally foment mayhem irrespective of what sort of cards ride in their wallets.
Unfortunately, we all share the world with perennial losers like Jason Kenneth Hamilton. Some of them live in places like New Jersey.
If I am unfortunate enough to have to transit states like New Jersey, Illinois, New York or California, I would just as soon not find myself helpless before the likes of Mr. Hamilton. That’s the real reason why concealed carry reciprocity so desperately needs to happen.