Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.) clarified on Wednesday that his national concealed carry reciprocity bill would apply to permits issued by states to non-residents.
After Hudson introduced the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 last week, questions were raised about whether it would apply to permits issued by some states to non-residents. In an interview with the Free Beacon, Hudson confirmed that permits issued by any state to residents or non-residents would have to be recognized by all other states under his legislation.
"My legislative intent is to ensure a non-resident carry permit is recognized, and I've confirmed this with legislative counsel and Judiciary Committee staff," Hudson said.
Many gun owners in states that use a "may issue" permitting process, such as California or New Jersey, are not able to obtain concealed carry permits from their home state—even if they've passed a background check and met the training requirements—since the final decision in those states is left at the discretion of government officials. However, those same gun owners may be able to obtain a non-resident permit from a state with different gun laws. Under Hudson's proposal, that permit would allow them to carry across the country—including in their home state.
That means an individual from Washington, D.C., where concealed carry permits are difficult to obtain even for those who complete the required training and pass a background check, could get a concealed carry permit from Virginia that would allow them to legally carry in the district. Individuals with permits from other states would still be required to follow local laws dictating where concealed carry is prohibited, for example in government buildings or on school property.
Hudson's bill is an effort to simplify the rules for carrying firearms across state lines. Currently, each state decides which states' permits it will recognize. Some states recognize all state permits. Some states don't recognize any permits from other states. Many recognize only some state permits.
Gun rights proponents have long said this leads to a confusing patchwork of laws for those with concealed carry permits. Confusion over these laws can ruin the lives of otherwise law abiding gun owners. Advocates often cite the case of Shaneen Allen, a Philadelphia woman who was arrested for carrying a legally purchased gun in New Jersey because she was unaware that her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit was not recognized there. Allen was eventually pardoned by Gov. Chris Christie (R., N.J.), but not before spending 40 days in jail and losing her job.
Hudson's bill would institute a federal requirement for reciprocity between states to avoid situations like Allen's. The bill has garnered support from leading gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, and is widely considered the top legislative priority for gun advocates in 2017. It already has over 100 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, including freshman Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.).
Hudson's clarification that his bill applies to non-resident permits drew praise from gun rights activists.
"Exercising your Second Amendment rights and using the means to defend yourself should not stop at a state border," the Second Amendment Foundation's Alan Gottlieb said. "We applaud Rep. Hudson for including the acceptance of non-resident permits in other states the same way resident permits are. The gun prohibition lobby will fight every attempt to remove their roadblocks to the right to keep and bear arms. This is one of their major roadblocks."