Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, by a vote of 272-154, with only seven Republicans voting against it and 43 Democrats supporting it.
This bill would allow individuals with valid state-issued concealed firearm permits 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.
As former Congressman Bob Barr correctly pointed out, “the bill is based on the Constitution’s ‘full faith and credit clause,’ which is also the basis of other laws that guarantee state-issued licenses — like drivers’ licenses — are recognized by states other than the ones issuing them.”
Hence, all the rhetoric comparing the bill to drivers’ licenses, “It’s kind of like having a driver’s license,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told Politico. “There are some states that have stricter driving laws than others.”
However, and as mentioned, there are some exceptions to the bill. Most notably an exemption for Illinois and Washington D.C., which both prohibit concealed carry.
Now that the bill has passed the House, it will make it’s way over to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which currently has no sister bill in the works.
But two years ago, and as the AP reported, Sen. John Thune (R- SD) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) almost succeeded in attaching a similar measure to a larger bill. So, there is a chance that the Senate finds a way to pass a National Reciprocity bill.
In the meantime, opponents of the National Reciprocity bill will continue to argue that the bill violates states rights and/or creates a “lowest common denominator” effect with CCW licensing.
“It’s a situation where weaker state laws become the national law,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. He told the AP that some states require training for permit holders, or deny permits to those under 21 or who sell drugs to minors, commit sex offenses or are involved in domestic violence.
In response to these arguments against H.R. 822 (many of them unfounded and hyperbolic), supporters of the bill need to follow Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) lead and simply point out that states licensing concealed carry “have 22% lower total violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates and 12% lower aggravated assault rates compared with the rest of the country.”