To advocate effectively for repeal or passage of firearms legislation we must first know and understand current law and how both are implemented. In this primer we introduce the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. It was introduced by the GOP and passed the House with broad bipartisan support.
Reciprocity refers to a bilateral agreement between two states that agree to honor each other's concealed carry permits. When one state honors another state's concealed carry permit it is called recognition. Do you know the requirements in your state for a concealed carry permit?
Please join us below the fold for an introduction to concealed weapons law.
Have you ever considered what is required in your state to carry a concealed weapon in public? Please take a few minutes to look up your state and use it as a benchmark for this diary.
|ACRONYMS and DEFINITIONS:
The meaning of license and permit depends on the state. Some states regulate public carry while leaving possession at home unregulated. Other states regulate ownership and public carry separately. For example, in NY residents must apply for a license to own a handgun just to keep it in their home or business. NY residents who want to carry a handgun in public must apply separately for a concealed carry permit.
CCW - Concealed Carry Weapon - A permit/license to carry a concealed firearm.
CFP - Carry Firearms Permit.
Constitutional Carry - The state does not require any kind of permit and any lawful gun owner can carry a gun in public
May Issue - The state grants law enforcement
No Issue - No permits are issued.
Shall Issue - A permit must be issued to anyone who meets the statutory requirements set by state law.
Constitutional rights lack uniform national recognition
We usually consider constitutional rights to exist everywhere in the country, and especially so the enumerated rights listed in the Bill of Rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Most of us can freely travel across state lines for any reason and express these freedoms without regard to which state we happen to be visiting.
Driving a car across state lines is uncomplicated because we have national standards that define lawful driving. Uniform proficiency testing for driving enables any state to recognize a driver's license issued by any other state. And we also have national laws that specify sanctions for various driving infractions. Some sanctions apply to the operator while others apply to the vehicle. If you are speeding the operator faces a fine and points are marked on their driver's license. If you park illegally the owner of the vehicle will receive a parking ticket and in some cases temporary forfeiture (towing). There is no need for a national driver's license because every state's driver license is honored by all the other states.
In contrast to the easy way we can all drive across state lines, exercising the right to vote or carry a concealed weapon depends on state and local laws. There are no uniform national standards for voting or for firearms. There is no national voter ID law and there is no national permit to carry a firearm in public. Both voting laws and concealed carry laws vary widely across the country. When a responsible gun owner wants to take their gun with them when they travel across state lines it can be quite challenging to remain in compliance with the law.
What is reciprocity?
There is enormous variability in gun laws across the country. The relative utility/relative risk of firearms is different on a 500 acre ranch in Montana than for a 1000 square foot apartment in New York. State and local laws reflect that diversity.
Concealed carry laws also vary widely across the country. Some states conduct extensive background and mental health checks and require an applicant to show "good cause" (e.g. New York, New Jersey) before they will issue a permit. Those states are called may issue states. They grant local law enforcement
some discretion when they decide whether to issue or deny a concealed carry permit. At the other extreme is Vermont, which requires no permit at all to carry a gun in public, openly or concealed. Most states, however, do require a permit, and most states must issue a concealed weapons permit to any applicant who meets their statutory requirements. Those states are called shall issue states. A few jurisdictions do not permit gun owners to carry firearms in public at all (e.g. Washington, D.C., American Samoa, N. Mariana Islands). Some states are legally may issue states, but have not issued any concealed carry permits in many years, effectively becoming a no issue state without elected officials passing any laws (e.g. Hawaii). States also have variable residency requirements for out-of-state applicants.
Reciprocity refers to a bilateral agreement between two states that agree to honor each other's concealed carry permits. When one state honors another state's concealed carry permit it is called recognition. Do you know which concealed carry permits your state will honor?
(h/t Meteor Blades) Click to view an interactive National Reciprocity Map
Who may/must be issued a permit from which states
Shall Issue to Residents Only: [These states must issue a concealed weapons permit to their own state residents who meet statutory requirements. Law enforcement has no discretion.]
Shall Issue to Residents and Non-Residents: [These states must issue a concealed weapons permit to residents of any state who meet statutory requirements. Law enforcement has no discretion.]
May Issue to Residents Only: [These states may issue a concealed weapons permit to their own state residents who meets statutory requirements. Law enforcement has
May Issue to Residents and Non-Residents: [These states may issue a concealed weapons permit to residents of any state who meet statutory requirements. Law enforcement has
District of Columbia
New York City
Virgin Islands somediscretion.]
Right Denied: [These states do not issue a concealed weapons permit to any state resident. Law enforcement has no discretion.]
Connecticut Maryland Massachusetts New Jersey New York
American Samoa, N. Mariana Islands
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act
In 2011 the GOP introduced the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. This federal law would force states with strict gun permit laws to honor every other state’s concealed carry permits, no matter how much the requirements differ. The PRO-reciprocity argument relies on three principles. First, the right to self defense is a fundamental human right. Second, the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense is articulated in the US Constitution. Third, protection of constitutional rights should not vary depending on where one lives or where one travels.
To RKBA advocates (including yours truly) the PRO-reciprocity argument is appealing, since it relies on the special status we give to constitutional rights. We generally reject the idea that our constitutional rights can be curtailed by the whims of a state government. It is easier to see the distinction with respect to religion. Most of us would reject any state law requiring every public school to include bible study, and most of us would reject any state law that prohibited religious schools from including bible study. Nevertheless, all of us have attended many public school events that begin with prayer.
H.R. 822 - National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011
The bill would allow individuals with valid state-issued concealed firearm permits or licenses to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that also issues concealed firearm permits or licenses, or in any other state that does not generally prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms.
H.R. 822 would require the Comptroller General of the U.S. to conduct an audit of the laws and regulations of each state that authorizes the issuance of a valid permit or license to permit a nonresident to possess or carry a concealed firearm. The audit would include a description of the permitting or licensing requirements of each state that issues concealed carry permits or licenses to persons other than the residents of that state. The audit would also include the number of valid permits and licenses issued or denied (and the basis for the denial) by each state, and the effectiveness of state laws and regulations in protecting public safety.
ABC News: House passess bill making concealed carry permits valid across state lines (Nov. 16, 2011)
By a bipartisan vote of 272-154, the House passed a measure that will enable non-resident gun owners to carry a concealed firearm across state borders.
Forty-three Democrats joined 229 Republicans in supporting the measure, which had 245 co-sponsors. Just seven Republicans joined 147 Democrats in voting against the bill.
Brian Malte, the federal legislation director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the bill would create a “race to the bottom,” where people would flock to states with the most lax requirements in order to obtain a concealed handgun license.
“This bill says, ‘Forget states rights, forget the ability of states to determine which states you want to have a reciprocal agreement with,’” Malte said. “It’s a one-size-fits-all that tramples states rights, that allows dangerous and untrained people to carry in any state.”
Official Summary from OpenCongress.Org
11/16/2011--Passed House amended. National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 - Amends the federal criminal code to authorize a person who is carrying a valid, government-issued identification document containing that person's photograph and a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm in one state, and who is not prohibited from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm under federal law, to possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machine gun or destructive device) in another state in accordance with the restrictions of that state. Directs the Comptroller General to conduct an audit of:
(1) state laws and regulations that authorize the issuance of a concealed firearm permit or license to a nonresident, including a description of the permitting or licensing requirements;
(2) the number of such valid permits or licenses issued or denied (and the basis for such denials) to nonresidents by each state; and
(3) the effectiveness of such state laws and regulations in protecting the public safety. Directs the Comptroller General to conduct a study of the ability of state and local law enforcement authorities to verify the validity of concealed firearm licenses or permits issued by other states.
Barriers that stand in the way of National Reciprocity
First, hundreds of gun laws have been challenged since Heller and the vast majority are being upheld. Lower courts are giving state and local governments wide latitude to address local crime and regulate the right to own and carry guns in public. Lower courts are holding that it is elected governments, not the courts, that are in the best position to balance protecting individual expression of the RKBA with the duty of the state to reduce crime and ensure public safety for everyone.
Second, there are no national standards for gun ownership, lawful use and concealed carry. There are no national standards for safety training or proficiency testing. There is no national agreement on requirements for licensing gun ownership and use. And there are no national standards that sanction negligent and criminal gun owners when they create a menace for themselves and others.
Third, there is no agreement in the lower courts that concealed carry falls within the scope of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The supreme court has already declined to review New York's concealed carry law, which is one of the most strict concealed carry laws in the country, (Kachalsky v. Cacace, in April 2013).
Most notably, out of six federal courts of appeal that have directly reviewed challenges to restrictions on concealed or open carry, five have upheld the laws at issue in their entirety.,28 For example, the Second Circuit in Kachalsky v. Cacace rejected a challenge to New York’s requirement that applicants for a concealed carry permit obtain a license by demonstrating that they have “a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.”29 Although the court assumed that the Second Amendment had “some” application outside of the home, it found that the law satisfied intermediate scrutiny because New York’s legislature “reasonably concluded that only individuals having a bona fide reason to possess handguns should be allowed to introduce them into the public sphere.”30 The Third Circuit upheld a New Jersey law similar to the New York law upheld in Kachalsky by finding that such restrictions on the concealed carrying of weapons are “long-standing” regulations under Heller and therefore presumptively valid.31The Tenth Circuit went even further in Peterson v. Martinez, holding flatly that “the Second Amendment does not confer a right to carry concealed weapons.”32
28 Peterson v. Martinez, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 3776 (10th Cir. Feb. 22, 2013); Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865 (4th Cir. 2013); Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933, 940-42 (7th Cir. 2012); Kachalsky v. Cacace, 701 F.3d 81 (2d Cir. 2012); Hightower v. Boston, 693 F.3d 61 (1st Cir. 2012).
29 Kachalsky, 701 F.3d at 86 (quotations and citations omitted).
30 Id. at 89, 98-99.
31 Drake v. Filko, No. 12-1150, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 15635 (3rd. Cir. Jul. 31, 2013). The New Jersey law at issue had its origins in the early 20th centrury, roughly the same time the first prohibitions on felons possessing firearms (which Heller called “long-standing”) were enacted.
32 Peterson, 707 F. 3d at 1211.
...Continue reading Post-Heller Litigation Summary (September 5, 2013)
We are a large and diverse country. Gun culture in cities is very different than gun culture in rural areas. This primer on concealed carry law reviews important legal terms relating to guns, and introduces the concept of state reciprocity for concealed carry permits. As appealing as it may sound to have national standards for firearms permits I don't believe that a one-size-fits all approach will get anywhere near passage into federal law during my lifetime. But I would support funding the first step, a federal audit of state laws and regulations. We may have to wait for a supreme court decision on the constitutionality of concealed carry before states are willing to invest time and money toward establishing a national standard.
The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group studies actions for reducing firearm deaths and injuries in a manner that is consistent with the current Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment. We also cover the many positive aspects of gun ownership, including hunting, shooting sports, and self-defense.
To assist ourselves and Daily Kos readers in becoming familiar with firearms laws where we live the Firearms Law and Policy group is planning to walk all across the country, state-by-state. We will dedicate a diary to a survey of each state's gun laws. If you would like to write about gun laws in your state please send a Kosmail to the The Daily Kos Firearms Law and Policy group or to LilithGardener.
To see our list of original and republished diaries, go to the Firearms Law and Policy diary list. Click on the ♥ or the word "Follow" next to our group name to add our posts to your stream, and use the link next to the heart to send a message to the group if you have a question or would like to join.
8:49 PM PT: Thank you to Pavepusher for his comment correcting my description of the discretion granted to law enforcement in may issue states.
2. "May Issue - The state grants law enforcement some discretion in deciding whether to issue a concealed weapons license."I also added the following sentence to highlight one of the problems with giving law enforcement absolute discretion. "Some states are legally may issue states, but have not issued any concealed carry permits in many years, effectively becoming a no issue state without elected officials passing any laws (e.g. Hawaii)."
Ummm, no. In "May Issue" states, the issuing authority has total discretion and control over issuing, subject only to a reversing court decision. I'm sure everyone here would scream blue murder if any other Constitutional or Civil Right was regulated that way.
Thu Oct 03, 2013 at 9:09 AM PT: The CCW link for Delaware has been corrected (h/t KVoimakas)
Shall May Issue.