Tuesday, December 18, 2007

H.R. 861: National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act

This looks interesting:

National standard for the carrying of certain concealed firearms by nonresidents
`(a) Notwithstanding any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, a person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm and is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued by a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm (other than a machinegun or destructive device) may carry in another State a concealed firearm (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, subject to subsection (b).

`(b)(1) If such other State issues licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms, the person may carry a concealed firearm in the State under the same restrictions which apply to the carrying of a concealed firearm by a person to whom the State has issued such a license or permit.

`(2) If such other State does not issue licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms, the person may not, in the State, carry a concealed firearm in a police station, in a public detention facility, in a courthouse, in a public polling place, at a meeting of a State, county, or municipal governing body, in a school, at a professional or school athletic event not related to firearms, in a portion of an establishment licensed by the State to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, or inside the sterile or passenger area of an airport, except to the extent expressly permitted by State law.'.
The intention seems to be that permit carriers living in other states can still carry firearms in non-carry states. However, as I read the bolded part, the permits do not have to be issued to a resident of the issuing state, just anyone the state chooses to issue to. At the present time, of course, no state will issue such a permit to a non-resident so the point is moot. But if this law passes and some gun-friendly state decides to issue carry permits to non-residents, it looks like this would extend those priveleges to non-carry states as well. So, if Arizona or Texas decided to issue me a permit to carry a gun in their state, my home state of California would have to honor that permit as well.

I sort of doubt that this interpretation would stand up to court challenge without specific language showing such an intent on the part of Congress. Even then, it seems that the principle of Federalism would tend to undermine such an interpretation. But it is plausible that Congress has authority to enforce an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as applied to carry laws, so this might just be a useful method of influencing the debate. I would very much like to hear the opinions of actual law experts.

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