The Case for National Reciprocity

Greetings fellow bikers. Summer is nearly upon us, and if you are like me, you will be carrying a pistol on your belt, ankle or boot. On our longer road trips, it is sometimes impossible to ride through states which recognize the Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit (HCP). This makes it difficult to carry legally.

While there have been states which allow for some type of handgun carry since the early 1920s, concealed carry permitting was not adopted by any state until Georgia did so in 1976. Indiana followed in 1980, Maine and North Dakota in 1985 and South Dakota in 1986. The floodgates opened soon thereafter, with 22 other states creating some kind of licensing for concealed carry over the next ten years. And while the formation of gun control groups (Brady Campaign, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, etc.) were to come years later, the Left immediately jumped in and said these laws would create scenes of Dodge City – with “blood flowing in the streets.” Naturally, there was a lot of media attention and states which were firmly controlled by the Democratic Party knuckled under and avoided legislation to allow for concealed carry programs. A few opted to pander to gun owners by creating “May Issue” programs – which were essentially the same as having no concealed carry law since a specified government official would decide if you really needed to carry a concealed firearm. Very few citizens are approved in these states. Today, every state has enacted a concealed carry licensing program, with Illinois being the last, having been forced by court order to do so in 2014.

Like other states with very restrictive gun laws, Illinois will not honor or provide any sort of reciprocity with any other state. This is the rub. When you are traveling, like we did recently, and riding through one of these states, you could be arrested for having a handgun anywhere on your person. These are almost always felony charges, which may lead to you not being approved for future gun purchases.

Your lovable Grey Beard Biker believes the best solution for the current patchwork of concealed carry laws would be a national constitutional carry amendment. However, this is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future. What can be done more easily, now that conservatives control both Federal legislative bodies and the executive branch, is national reciprocity. We have a very realistic opportunity to do this as a bill has already been introduced.

On January 3, 2017, North Carolina Representative Richard Hudson introduced H.R. 38 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 in the House of Representatives. Since that time 208 other house members have signed on as co-sponsors, including three Democrats. Here is what the congress.gov/bill website provides as summary text for H.R. 38:

This bill amends the federal criminal code to allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.

A qualified individual must: (1) be able to possess, transport, or receive a firearm under federal law; (2) carry a valid photo identification document; and (3) carry a valid concealed carry permit issued by; or be able to carry a concealed firearm in, his, or her state of residence.

Additionally, the bill specifies that a qualified individual who lawfully carries or possesses a concealed handgun in another state: (1) is not subject to the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm in a school zone, and (2) may carry or possess the concealed handgun in federally owned lands that are open to the public.

In simple terms, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 will allow a handgun carry permit holder in Tennessee to legally conceal carry their handgun in any state which has a concealed carry permit for their residents. Since all 50 states have such programs, you could carry legally in all 50 states. One would also assume this reciprocity would be honored by the District of Columbia, since they also have a “may issue” concealed carry permitting program. The bill will not grant open carry privileges – at least in states which do not have an open carry provision -and the permittee will have to abide by all concealed carry laws in force in the state they are in.

In simple terms, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 will allow a handgun carry permit holder in Tennessee to legally conceal carry their handgun in any state which has a concealed carry permit for their residents. Since all 50 states have such programs, you could carry legally in all 50 states. One would also assume this reciprocity would be honored by the District of Columbia, since they also have a “may issue” concealed carry permitting program. The bill will not grant open carry privileges – at least in states which do not have an open carry provision -and the permittee will have to abide by all concealed carry laws in force in the state they are in.

The House of Representatives haa passed this bill. At this time, I’m fairly certain it would need to be reintroduced in a now Democratic controlled House of Representatives. But it could still pass again as there are plenty of Democrat legislators living in states that are very pro-second amendment. In 2017, the Republican controlled U.S. Senate, controlled by senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) never let the bill come out of committee. But it’s not too late.

What can you do? – Contact your U.S. representative, and both of your U.S. Senators, and urge them to support a National Reciprocity Bill. You can go to this NRA-ILA website to reach your lawmakers: National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action

Molon Labe,
The Grey Beard Biker

This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.

About the author

Living in Clarksville, Tennessee, Michael Noirot has been riding motorcycles for many years. He and his gal, Tracy, have traveled the United States on motorcycles and are always seeking out new adventures. Living with them are their pets, Willa, Lexi and Motor - the black cat!

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