The House will mark up a bill on Wednesday that would make concealed-carry permits valid across state lines, even when someone travels from a state with lax permitting standards to one with strict standards; allow those who reside in “permitless carry” states to pack heat throughout the country with no permit at all; and even require states to let their own residents carry guns with “non-resident” permits they got elsewhere.
I’m a concealed-carry fan — indeed, I have a Virginia permit myself — but I come down on the side of federalism here, as I explained back in June. Here was my basic point:
Mandatory reciprocity is constitutionally defensible, though not for the reasons these bills’ sponsors and most of their supporters seem to think. But it would be a federal overreach, and ultimately a bad tradeoff for conservatives to strike. A sovereign state that requires its own citizens to meet certain requirements before carrying a concealed weapon should be allowed to demand the same of non-residents.
And the House language requiring states to let their own residents carry with permits from elsewhere is especially troubling. It isn’t an oversight, either; an early draft of the bill applied in states “other than the State of residence of the person,” but that language didn’t make it into the text that was actually introduced, and Stephen Gutowski reported in January that the sponsor intended to mandate reciprocity for non-resident permits.
“This means an individual from Washington, D.C., where concealed carry permits are difficult to obtain even for those who complete the required training and pass a background check, could get a concealed carry permit from Virginia that would allow them to legally carry in the district,” Gutowski explained. In other words, this doesn’t just help travelers; it outright overrides restrictive concealed-carry regimes across the country.
The Senate’s bill takes a different approach, however, retaining the ”other than the State of residence” language. At the very least, the House should put those words back in during markup and let states determine their own permitting rules, at least for their own citizens.