Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit

photo of gun with text "nationwide concealed carry permit?"
Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit?
This article will explain why the United States should have a nationwide concealed carry permit (or nationwide reciprocity of state-issued concealed carry permits). Such a permit would be consistent with the Second Amendment, which does not limit its protections to citizens' home states, and it would protect well-meaning people from being prosecuted as felons for making honest mistakes when they travel across state lines. There may be problems with the lax standards that some states have for issuing permits, but these could be addressed with a nationwide concealed carry permit that sets its own standards. 

The 2nd Amendment Warrants Nationwide Concealed Carry Permits

The Second Amendment says that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It does not say that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed in their home state. Nor does it say that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms that not be infringed, except when the people are in New York, New Jersey, and California. The Second Amendment grants the people a federal, or nationwide, right.

As it is now, we have a patchwork quilt of conflicting state laws that provide "pitfalls for the unwary." Or "gotcha" moments, where licensed gun owners inadvertently cross state lines with a gun that's perfectly legal where they live, but which exposes them to felony prosecution in a neighboring state.

Nationwide Concealed Carry Permits Would Protect Good People Who Make Honest Mistakes

Having a nationwide concealed carry permit would protect well-meaning gun owners from felony prosecution for an honest mistake. For example, Shaneen Allen, bought a gun for protection after being robbed a couple of times in her hometown of Philadelphia. She got a Pennsylvania license for concealed carry, and all was going well ... until she crossed the New Jersey state line, without realizing she still had her pistol in her car. She was pulled over for an improper lane change (i.e., police talk for racially profiling someone and stopping them in the hopes of finding evidence of drugs or outstanding warrants). Ms. Allen volunteered to the officer that she had her pistol in her purse and that she was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania (a few miles away), and the police officer promptly arrested her. Suddenly, a hard-working single mother with no criminal record was turned into an accused felon, all for doing something completely legal in her home state, just a few miles away. After a long legal battle, Shaneen Allen was finally pardoned by New Jersey Gov. Christie.

The story of Shaneen Allen is, unfortunately, an all too common farce in some of the states with crazy gun laws and no respect for the Second Amendment, states like New York, New Jersey, and California. Surely, New Jersey could have found a much better use for the money and manpower it spent on incarcerating and prosecuting Shaneen Allen, who was never a criminal threat to society. Yet she was treated as heavy-handedly as someone who had used a gun to commit a crime. To protect good people who make an honest mistake in exercising their rights under the federal constitution, we need a nationwide concealed carry permit.

Recent Legislation to Create a Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump pledged his support to nationwide reciprocity for concealed carry permits. See, I don't agree with the Donald about much, but I think he has a point when he says that we give nationwide reciprocity for driving a car, which is a privilege, but not for keeping and bearing arms, which is a right.

More recently, the House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. See, This bill is now pending in the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

We'll see what happens now. With the recent focus on mass shootings, such as those in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida, lawmakers will probably be showing more restraint in expanding gun rights. I don't believe the recent mass shootings should affect the bill about nationwide concealed carry. After all, concealed carry permits were not an issue in either of these mass shootings, since the shooters used AR-15 assault rifles, rather than pistols. However, you can see that the political considerations would be affected for some Senators, who may not want to be seen as being too pro-gun rights during the aftermath of multiple, sensational mass shootings.

Potential Problems with Nationwide Concealed Carry Permits

Obviously, there are lots of critics of the move to create a nationwide concealed carry permit (or to mandate nationwide reciprocity for state-issued concealed carry permits). I believe that the most salient concerns center around the question of what standards will apply for someone to obtain a nationwide concealed carry permit.

As it is now, the states have varying standards for determining whom they'll issue concealed carry permits, as well as varying requirements for gun owners to comply with in terms of certification and training. Some states are very lax in this regard, while others are much more strict. Good arguments can be made for some minimum standards in terms of training and legal knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of gun ownership and use, especially when it comes to a nationwide concealed carry permit, that every state and municipality would have to recognize

Another concern, which is probably a concern for gun ownership in general, is protections for those who may be harmed by gun owners' negligence or recklessness. Obviously, this concern is linked to the question of standards, since stricter and more rigorous requirements would hopefully result in gun owners who exercise more appropriate competence and carefulness. However, the law could be amended to add requirements that gun owners maintain personal liability insurance in order to qualify for nationwide concealed carry permits (or for their state-issued permit to be recognized as valid in other states). This would be helpful for existing concerns that gun-control advocates have: protecting victims of gun violence.

There are fair questions about how to make a nationwide concealed carry permit work. But questions of how reciprocity would work is a distinct issue from whether there should even be reciprocity in the first place. Based on Second Amendment concerns, this fundamental right under the federal constitution should be nationwide in scope.

And you could make the argument that state-issued concealed carry permits should be recognized nationwide, without some universally agreed upon set of standards. Assuming that the states have acceptable standards in place to ensure that they are not issuing permits to (1) violent criminals, (2) psychotic individuals, or (3) people with no training or exposure to firearms except for what they've observed in the movies, then why should states not have to recognize the permits from other states? They have to recognize judicial decisions, marriage licenses, etc., so why not carry permits?

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