Reciprocity and Reciprocal Carry, Part 9 in a 9 Part Series:
The National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011
A topic of intense interest is H.R. 822. This is titled the “National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.” This bill was introduced on February 18, 2011. The bill proposes to amend 18 U.S.C. 926C, which is where the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 was codified.
You may remember from its brief mention in the prior blog post that this law allows qualified off duty and retired police officers to carry a concealed handgun in other states so long as they follow certain state law. This is an effective extension of that legislation to allow citizens with a state-issued license to carry in other states.
National carry has been proposed several times over the years. The major difference between citizens who possess a license to carry and law enforcement officers is law enforcement officers are required to qualify at a range with a basic competency level.
These police officers do not have immunity, nor would they be acting under color of law. The only other perceptible difference is educational levels for law enforcement officers versus civilians, but this is a tenuous distinction, since the Fourth and Fifth Amendment provisions would not apply.
On November 16, 2011, H.R. 822, passed the House of Representatives by a 58 vote margin and was sent to the Senate. Two hurdles remain. First, H.R. 822 would have to pass a Democratic-controlled Senate. Unlike some bills, there is no mirror or parallel bill in the Senate. Second, it would be subject to Presidential veto.
Thus, the fight for this right is far from over. However, the particulars of H.R. 822 are quite important. If passed into law in its House form, it would make reciprocity a federal right between any states so long as the foreign state has a statute that allows residents to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms or does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the state for lawful purposes.
Within the text of this bill, it excludes NFA weapons and destructive devices. Moreover, it, like H.R. 218 direct the carry must be concealed carry. Also, in its present form the legislation is broad and may include handguns and long guns in its reference to the federal definition of firearms. H.R. 822 references both.
Although H.R. 822 seems unlikely to pass the Senate, the bill has momentum and political lobby groups, including the NRA, are pressing hard for this legislation to pass. Everyone reading this blog post who wants national reciprocity as a right should make their voice heard to maximize pressure on the Senate.
If it passes, there will be a major step forward. However, like H.R. 218, a number of pitfalls and risk would still have to be overcome. The express text of H.R. 218 dictates the “carry of a concealed handgun in a State under this section shall be subject to the same conditions and limitations, except as to eligibility to possess or carry, imposed by or under Federal or State law or the law of a political subdivision”.
What this means is the bewildering array of state and local law, rules and ordinances would stand and still have to be followed in all regards. This is H.R. 822, and how it fits in the reciprocity scheme that has been set out in the prior 8 blog posts in this series. However, while it is somewhat of a baby-step change, it is a profound policy stand and statement pro gun, far different from just 1994, when the assault weapons ban passed and lingered for a decade.
This blog post is written for GST (www.gunshowstoday.com) by Bryan L. Ciyou, attorney at law, who practices in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is intended for general educational purposes.
Disclaimer/Warning: This Blog is not intended to provide legal advice nor a solicitation for legal representation. Specific questions relating to carrying a firearm should be directed to knowledgeable counsel in your state or the state of proposed carry.