Because I often travel with my pistol, I have compiled a list of states in which I am not able to legally carry concealed, at least currently. I keep a small, laminated card in my wallet that lists all of those fifteen states, a quick reference for whether I might be, for example, risking felony charges and illegal confiscation or some hard-fought battle for acquittal.
Of course, the concealed carry fight began many years ago and has fortunately led us to this point, when even a born cynic such as myself appreciates the 35 states in which he can carry more than resents the 15 in which he cannot. Indeed, it is a good era to be a pistol and carry aficionado, be it concealed or open.
Regardless, let’s have a look at the legal burden on gun owners as it relates to concealed carry and travel, and the process by which one is “permitted” at the state level to a right already expressly covered in the United States Constitution.
In my case, were it only for my resident Oregon permit, I would be legal in 21 states. Of course, I’ve added three different non-resident permits to bring that total to the aforementioned 35. As I plan to add at least one more permit to increase the number to 37, I’m intrigued by the introduction of Senator John Cornyn’s recently proposed bill.
I like the idea of a driver license-like federal recognition of concealed carry far more than I like the notion of future sciatic pain management. I’d far rather renew my Oregon permit every four years than pay additional bureaucratic fees and manage the small spreadsheet necessary to track those fees, the expiration dates, and the notable legal exceptions across states. Maybe I could finally retire my old, dog-eared copy of the gun carrier’s legal bible, the statutory proof that I would need in the theoretical case in which my legality might be questioned.
Keeping track of the laws and regulations, not just the actual gun laws but even more arcane laws like domicile laws and gun accessory laws, is integral to legally carrying. And those of us interested in abiding by the laws of the land rather than pretending that the laws mean something that they don’t, we grudgingly bear at the state level the burden of exercising what is fully understood to be an individual, federal right.
This law-abiding citizen habit of mine is brutally bureaucratic, sort of expensive, and at least slightly frustrating, to be frank. More than once, usually while renewing one of my licenses, I’ve thought it would be so much better if all states simply recognized my Oregon license, enabling me to maintain one central license at a reasonable fee, so the proposed Senate bill is one of my favorites to come along in awhile.
Of course, there are myriad obstacles ahead of lobbyists and supporting politicians, not the least of which is the issue of the wide disparity in issue requirements around the country. As perfect example, the state of Oregon does not require anything outside of a classroom setting; in other words, no gun firing or range time is required. In other states, permitting requires range time. Regardless of what one might think the requirements should be, the gun control folks out there will be hanging their hats on this issue while spreading the completely debunked and hysterical notion that federally recognized concealed carry would result in some type of nationwide shootout.
There are other details, too, of course that will become at least minor obstacles. Some states issue a “concealed weapon license,” others a “concealed weapons permit,” and still others a “concealed handgun license,” or even a “pistol and revolver license.” Not only do various states issue permits/licenses under various names, but they also regulate the legality of various instruments; some states include knives and/or blunt instruments, stun guns, etc., while others limit holders strictly to concealing firearms (and usually handguns at that). It is a rather complicated and onerous combination of state and federal laws of which any gun owner wishing to travel must be urgently aware, and which will undoubtedly, and at least somewhat ironically, be the center of much of the argument against the bill.
I’m no lawyer, I’m just a guy on the internet with an opinion and a guess, but here’s how I see this whole thing playing out: Despite all of the imminent hand-wringing and progressive dog whistles for “common sense,” the Republican majority Congress, along with those who may or not be supportive but whose constituencies demand support, will pass the bill, opening the door to federally sanctioned concealed carry. An earlier version of the proposed bill in the previous Congress did not have the required votes to be enacted, but this Congress has the majority, the momentum, and maybe even some bartering leverage.
Of course, my gun enthusiast peers and friends, things will then get very interesting, because such a win for gun rights is very nearly the penultimate volley in the decades-long battle between those who would prefer that all guns were illegal and those of us understanding that our right shall not be infringed. In that way, and in some others, the passing of Senator Cornyn’s bill would be so definitive as to end the “debate.”
That means the stakes are high, and that you’ll see, hear, and read every last desperate gun-grabbing trope along the way in the coming months. And then when (okay, if) the bill passes, you can rest assured that this current president will implement his favorite threat. You can bank on that part. It could be time to proactively grab your popcorn and then pull up a seat.
I hope I’m wrong about the veto part, because I’ve been wanting one of those sleeker, thinner wallets for awhile. And, speaking of sleeker and thinner, if travel with my pistol is going to be legal everywhere I go, well, I have to admit that it will be the final justification I need to pick up one of these. Okay, I’m off to write a quick email. Maybe you should think of doing the same. No, really.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.