Concealed carry reciprocity a must

Congressman Richard Hudson has sponsored H.R.38 - Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017115th Congress (Madeline Gray/North State Journal)

I am a lifetime member of the NRA, and have a concealed carry permit just like many Stanly County citizens. Here in North Carolina we enjoy open carry laws, and restrictions on the Second Amendment in rural North Carolina seems to be unpopular amongst both Republicans and Democrats. North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson has introduced a bill in Washington that would give reciprocity to concealed carriers.

To obtain a concealed carry permit in North Carolina an applicant must receive extensive background checks. The requirements include the sheriff issuing a permit within 90 days after receipt of a completed application to an applicant who is a citizen of the U.S., and has been a resident of the state for at least 30 days prior to filing out the paperwork. The applicant must be at least 21, and not suffering from a physical or mental infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a handgun.

Concealed carriers must successfully complete an approved firearms safety and training course which involves the actual firing of handguns and instruction in the law governing the carrying of a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force. Prior to taking the course, applicants verify that they are not ineligible under federal or state law to possess, receive, or own a firearm, and are not currently or have not been adjudicated or administratively determined to be lacking mental capacity or illness. Other disqualifying criminal charges apply too.

Individuals who hold concealed carry permits may not carry in any location prohibited by federal law. A law enforcement or correctional facility, a building housing only state, federal or government offices, and financial institutions. Any public or private school building or bus, campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic fields or other property used or owned by an educational institution is off limits. Any assembly where a fee had been charged for admission or where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed.

Congressman Hudson’s proposed bill addresses a problem and his argument can be illustrated with a driver’s license. A driver’s license works in every state, so why doesn’t your concealed carry permit? Much like your privilege to drive, your Second Amendment right does not disappear when you cross state lines. However, conflicting state codes have created a confusing patchwork of reciprocity agreements for concealed carry permit holders. Without nationwide reciprocity, a North Carolina resident cannot travel to Delaware without having to reroute their trip to avoid driving through Maryland. In addition, a Pennsylvania resident who is a concealed carry permit holder consistently worries about making a wrong turn, ending up in New York, and breaking the law. Even the most careful and knowledgeable concealed carry permit holders find it difficult to navigate the current maze of state and local laws.

Many Stanly County citizens exercise concealed carry as their Constitutional right to self-defense. That right should not infringed upon especially when they are travelling out of state. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 will ensure that valid concealed carry permits issued in one state are valid for carrying concealed handguns in other states that recognize their own residents right to concealed carry.

Put the burden of proof clearly on the state to show that an individual carrying concealed did not comply with the law, thus protecting law-abiding gun owners from onerous civil suits. Provide legal protections against states that violate the intent of this bill, making attorney’s fees and damages available to victorious plaintiffs in civil suits, as well as to defendants who prevail in criminal cases. Allow individuals who are carrying concealed to do so in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.

Each state retains the authority to determine regulations for carrying within their borders, as well as for the carry permits or licenses that are issued under their law. This legislation prioritizes the rights of law-abiding citizens to carry and the ability to travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes. I think this is a good idea, especially for safety while traveling across the nation.