One license for all? Congress takes up national reciprocity bill on concealed carry

Will Americans with carry permits in their home state finally be allowed to carry across state lines without fear of felony prosecution? Last week, a North Carolina Congressman introduced a bill requiring national reciprocity among states that allow concealed carry, and even picked up a couple of Democratic sponsors in the House, as Fox’s Adam Shaw reports. Rep. Richard Hudson argues that driver’s licenses get full reciprocity, and that licenses for the exercise of a constitutionally protected right should get the same consideration:

The bill, put forward in the new Congress last week by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry license to have that license recognized in any other state that allows concealed carry. This also would apply to states that recognize so-called “constitutional carry” where a license is not required for a concealed handgun.

The goal, Hudson says, is to prevent gun owners from getting caught in a patchwork of state-by-state laws.

“Your driver’s license works in every state, so why doesn’t your concealed-carry permit?” Hudson’s office said in an accompanying fact sheet.

Right now the bill has 93 co-sponsors in the House, still with just two Democrats — Henry Cuellar of Texas, and Minnesota’s Collin Peterson. The House referred the bill to the Judiciary Committee for consideration, and its chair Bob Goodlatte has an A rating from the NRA. The bill is likely to proceed from Judiciary in a timely manner, and a floor vote would have an all but certain chance of success, especially with Democratic co-sponsors.

However, the real question will be whether it manages to get a companion bill in the Senate. Republicans only have a 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber, and the filibuster is alive and well there for legislation. Chuck Schumer’s about to get steamrolled on Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, so he’ll be looking for a win to keep the progressive wing of his party from quitting on Democrats out of disgust. The only real opportunity for this bill will be after 2018, and only if Republicans can keep their own wings engaged for the midterm cycle that looks like utter disaster for Democrats. Republicans might prefer to wait on this issue until after 2018 in order to prevent the filibuster, and in order to keep from giving Democrats a rallying cry on a bill that won’t survive anyway.

Fox also featured a panel discussion on the merits of this bill, but it’s mostly for entertainment’s sake. Rather than get someone who could parse the nuances of the issue, Fox asked Ellen Ratner — a gun-ownership opponent — to explain why allowing law-abiding citizens to cross state lines while abiding by the law would be a bad thing. Instead, Ratner tries arguing that the Supreme Court got Heller and McDonald wrong and that personal gun ownership is a bad idea whether or not it crosses a state line. Guess who wins this discussion.