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Gun rights campaigners have already registered some early victories since November’s election, having axed an Obama-era Social Security rule. This early success has inspired them to try and get more sweeping reforms passed by the new President.
Specifically, they are targeting Concealed Carry Reciprocity. Gun owners who have a concealed carry permit in their home state often worry that, when crossing state lines, they are automatically breaking the law if they are carrying a concealed weapon.
Of course, different states have a wide variety of different laws on concealed carry and other restrictions on firearms, so the permit holder would still have to abide by all of the state laws of the state they are crossing into.
Advocates of the new law say that it would mean that gun owners will not have to worry about inadvertently breaking the law when they carry concealed firearms across state lines.
The situation with concealed carry is confusing at the moment, being covered by a vast variety of different state- and federal-level laws. All 50 states currently allow some form of concealed carry, though the regulations in each can be complicated and confusing. If gun-owners drive to visit a relative in a distant state, for instance, they could accidentally fall foul of the concealed carry restrictions in the states they drive through.
In addition, many states already have some form of reciprocity, allowing gun owners with the correct license to carry a concealed weapon in several other states. But again, where this applies an where it doesn’t is a real patchwork, leading to confusion and misunderstandings.
As a result, even the most conscientious and law-abiding gun owners sometimes get into trouble, because they do not research the laws applicable in the states they are traveling to or through. Achieving US-wide reciprocity on concealed carry has therefore long been a focus of the NRA and other lobbying groups.
Opponents say, however, that a nationwide concealed carry reciprocity law could undermine strict regulations in force in various states. They argue that some states have specific limitations in concealed carry, and that these restrictions are in place for good reasons in each state. Imposing a “one size fits all” reciprocity rule could mean that these regulations are broken, and that state-level laws are undermined.
Those opposed to the bill therefore feel that it would lead to firearm restrictions devolving to the minimum possible level – firearm owners would seek concealed carry licenses in the state with the weakest possible gun laws, in order to carry concealed weapons across the US.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican, has already introduced legislation to this effect in the upper chamber. Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican, has tabled a similar bill in the house.
That said, the Republicans in Capitol Hill have a long list of priorities at the moment. Attention over the past few weeks has focused on the Republican-backed effort to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act. Given this, it is not clear where concealed carry reciprocity falls in the long list of Republican priorities, and how quickly it will be expedited through the senate.
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