U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, made expanding national rights for gun owners his top priority on the first day of his third term in Congress.
Hudson, who is an adviser to President-elect Donald Trump via his “Second Amendment Coalition,” introduced legislation Tuesday that would guarantee concealed carry permit holders rights to have a gun outside their home state, so long as the person carrying the gun abides by local laws. The bill, Hudson says, will ensure “our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines.”
The National Rifle Association on Wednesday announced its support for Hudson’s proposal, saying it eliminates confusion among varying state laws but ensures states still have a say over where and how concealed guns can be carried. The bill keeps intact any prohibitions for certain people under federal law already barred from buying or carrying a gun.
A frequent critic of President Barack Obama’s approach to federal gun laws, Hudson is recognized as a strong Second Amendment rights supporter in Congress. He’s blasted Obama’s executive orders to exert more federal control over gun sales.
Hudson’s “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” is a similar version of a bill he first introduced in early 2015. The newer version, though, recognizes “constitutional carry” – the right granted in some states to carry concealed firearms without a permit. Hudson’s 2017 bill also proposes allowing concealed carry in national parks and on other federal lands, including the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Reciprocity across state lines for concealed carry permit holders has largely been an issue left up to states.
In late 2015, for example, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said his state would no longer recognize out-of-state permits from 25 states, including North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The problem, according to Herring – who based his decision on an audit performed with the Virginia State Police – is that some other states lack laws “sufficient to prevent someone who is disqualified under Virginia law from receiving a concealed handgun permit.”
The Virginia reciprocity change was expected to go into effect Feb. 1, 2016, but state lawmakers and Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe agreed to a compromise. As of July 1, 2016, Virginia state law recognizes concealed carry rights for out-of-state permit holders for handguns.
Hudson says his bill would amend federal law to help gun owners navigate an often confusing “maze” of state laws.
“It will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits,” according to a statement on Tuesday from Hudson, who lives in Concord, just north of the Charlotte area.
The legislation already has 58 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. Hudson’s 2015 version had 216 co-sponsors.
Hudson’s office says his bill would not restrict states’ ability to set parameters for gun purchases, concealed carry laws and qualifications for permits.
Still, gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety has argued a national reciprocity would erode state authority and public safety. The group has, in the past, fought legislative attempts to create national reciprocity, saying some states require gun training before a person can obtain a concealed carry permit while others will issue permits to a person who has never fired a gun.
The group has also pointed out other stark differences among state gun laws, including some where domestic violence offenders or people with restraining orders cannot get a permit. Everytown for Gun Safety has argued national reciprocity would present a challenge for police officers who have no national database to determine whether out-of-state concealed carry permits are valid when a visitor is in their jurisdiction.