House Republicans on Wednesday passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (HR 38), a landmark bill that would allow licensed gun owners to carry firearms into other states.
Under the new law, a concealed carry permit would work like a driver’s license – it would be recognized in every state regardless of different laws and permitting standards. Despite what some critics have claimed, reciprocity does not affect how states issue permits.
HR 38 is the first gun legislation passed since the October 1st shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 and the November 5th shooting in Texas that killed 26. The bill, which has 213 co-sponsors, is combined with legislation to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Gun owners and Republicans argue that HR 38 will help people protect themselves in violent situations, while Democrats and gun control advocates argue the bill will lead to more shootings.
Nationwide reciprocity is a huge priority for the NRA, which argues that a citizen’s Second Amendment right should not end when he or she crosses states lines. The NRA has long complained about the “confusing patchwork of state and local gun laws” which makes it easy for a gun owner to accidentally break the law while traveling.
Whether or not the bill passes, NYC Criminal Defense Lawyer Mark Bederow hopes it will force “New York prosecutors to re-evaluate the usefulness of criminally prosecuting honest, law-abiding firearms owners who accidentally run afoul of New York’s stringent weapons laws.”
New Yorkers have been particularly critical of the bill. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance insists HR 38 would put “New Yorkers at risk” because they live in the “number one terrorist target in the world.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also opposes the bill. “The legislation would let individuals from out of state convicted of certain crimes to carry hidden, loaded weapons in New York, in violation of New York’s much better, safer law. Only the NRA could propose something so ill-considered, dangerous, and vile.”
HR 38’s companion bill is still pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and passage is not a certainty.
Editor’s note: This is the opportunity for a major victory (no Democrat will support this) on an exceedingly partisan issue, if the Senate can get its act together. Unfortunately, since the margin of majority is much smaller in the Senate, any craziness by a single senator could cause the bill to fail.