Every year, millions of North Carolinians travel out of our state for work, vacation or to visit friends and family. Of those travelers, did you know that more than 600,000 of us have concealed carry permits? Right now, those permits are accepted in 36 other states – and North Carolina recognizes concealed carry permits issued by all other states. With that said, while all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow for concealed carry permits to be issued on some basis, 14 states don’t recognize the validity of North Carolina’s concealed carry permits.
As you can see from just our state’s example, the hodgepodge of concealed carry reciprocity agreements between states is confusing. It has caused some law-abiding concealed carry permit holders to innocently and unknowingly break the law and suffer arrest, while preventing others from carrying over state lines at all. Take for instance the story of Brian Fletcher, a law-abiding concealed carry permit holder from Granville county. After Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, Brian traveled to New Jersey to help with storm-related utility repairs. He was carrying his legally-purchased gun when he was stopped by a police officer in New Jersey. He did what any permit holder would do: notify the officer and hand him his ID. The problem is, while New Jersey allows concealed carry, it does not recognize any other state’s right to carry. Brian was simply trying to do the right thing, but an honest mistake landed him in jail.
That’s why I’m pleased to let you know that my bill, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38), passed the House Judiciary Committee last week. This is a simple, common sense solution to affirm that law-abiding citizens who are qualified to carry concealed in one state can also carry in other states that allow residents to do so.
This is a simple application of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution requiring that states give “full faith and credit” to the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” This clause allows your driver’s license to be recognized by other states. If we allow a driver’s license for driving—which is a privilege, not a right—then we can do that for our Second Amendment – which is a right, not a privilege. This has been called one of the most important gun measures in Congress – ever, and the American people agree. According to a recent survey by the New York Times, an overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity – 73% to be exact.
Despite this overwhelming support, critics have spread doomsday scenarios and outlandish claims, including “the bill is supported by ISIS,” “it will override state laws,” “it will arm criminals,” and “it will turn cities into the ‘Wild West.’” Big-city liberal Michael Bloomberg has vowed to spend $25 million to stop it. That’s because the facts simply don’t back up their claims.
For one, H.R. 38 does not override state laws. Nothing in H.R. 38 prevents a municipality or state from enacting restrictions on where, when and how people can lawfully carry in their jurisdiction. And H.R. 38 will not arm criminals or dangerous individuals. In fact, there is a provision that excludes any individual who is prohibited by federal law from “possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm” – including criminals convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, criminals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, individuals subject to a restraining order for harassment, stalking or threatening, and individuals who have been adjudicated as a mental defective or have been committed to any mental institution.
Lastly, my bill doesn’t make it any easier to buy a gun. It would not change access to guns or the federal law requiring background checks before purchasing guns. At the end of the day, I welcome a rational debate on constitutional rights and public safety, but I reject the false dilemma that we can’t have both. I look forward to continuing this momentum and bringing this important bill to the House floor as soon as possible.