A measure currently making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives would extend the reciprocity rights of those with valid concealed-carry handgun permits to legally carry for personal protection in all 49 states that currently have a permit system in place.
House Resolution (HR) 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Bill, is unprecedented in its scope and extension of Second Amendment privileges. But does it stand a chance of becoming law?
On November 1, Wisconsin will become the 49th state to officially enact a law permitting the right to carry a firearm by those legally authorized to do so. Only Illinois has no type of handgun permit system.
A total of 40 states, accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. population, now have right-to-carry laws, with 36 having “shall issue” permit laws. Four states—Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont—do not require a permit to carry. The remaining eight states have restrictive discretionary issue laws.
On Tuesday, October 25, HR 822 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 19-11.
While in the judiciary committee, the bill was successfully amended to read that visitors to states with laws requiring licenses for handgun possession do not need a possession license, which is often unavailable to nonresidents. The substitute also made clear that in states with local jurisdictions that restrict carrying or possession, visitors would not need to apply for special permits from those jurisdictions.
The National Rifle Association continues to be the legislation’s more influential advocate, while attempting to deflect criticism coming from multiple directions and sources.
With 245 co-sponsors in the U.S. House, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 continues to move forward, but its future is anything but certain. A huge question mark remains in the U.S. Senate, where potential amendments could make the measure unacceptable with House supporters.
Then, there’s the matter of a potential veto should HR 822 reach the President’s desk.
Whatever the fate of this ambitious legislation, gun owners and proponents of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution need only look back in time—10, 20 years or so—to an era when few states allowed law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for personal and family protection, and when the idea of national carry reciprocity was considered to be an improbable pipe dream.
Whatever happens, we’ve come a long way, indeed.