A handful of Congressmen are currently pushing through a bill called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act that would allow nation-wide reciprocity of concealed carry permits. This means that individual states would have much less of a say in who carries a concealed weapon if they have the appropriate documentation from the state where they got their concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit initially. They would have to recognize each other state’s CCW permit as they do a driver’s license. From the bill:
“a person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm, who is carrying a valid identification document containing a photograph of the person, and who is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm or is entitled to carry a concealed firearm in the State in which the person resides, may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, in any State that—
“(1) has a statute under which residents of the State may apply for a license or permit to carry a concealed firearm; or
“(2) does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes.”
So CCW permit holders from Virginia, for example, would be able to carry in neighboring Maryland as long as they have a valid photo ID and their Virginia CCW permit on them at all times. Maryland currently does not recognize any other state’s concealed carry permit. Virginia recognizes all other states’ permits.
36 states have laws governing CCW permits while the remaining 14 (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming) are fully unrestricted, allowing anyone who can own a gun legally to carry concealed. Idaho, North Dakota and Wyoming only extend permitless carry to residents of the state; non-residents must still have a permit issued by their home state to legally carry concealed in these states.
It’s interesting as well that legislators threw in the second part of the requirements - “[that the state] does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms…” - because all states currently allow for concealed carry whether by permit or otherwise being unregulated. Vermont, for instance, does not issue CCW permits whatsoever and allows any eligible gun owner from any state to carry concealed.
Presumably that nuance is thrown in there in case any states decide in the future to not allow concealed carry permits to be issued (highly unlikely). But then we’re treading even more into the dangerous territory of states rights and the role of the federal government in their interaction. This bill would absolutely shake up the current patchwork system in the United States. Some, especially within the NRA, see it as a very good thing, knocking down walls for responsible gun owners and their ability to carry while traveling. Others see it as an inherent right of the states to be able to make their own decisions, specifically on gun-related matters and, while they might support it at face value, still don’t want the federal government making the decision for everybody.
As it stands, this seems to be one of the only gun-related measures with any chance of making it through Congress. It will be very interesting to see how this one plays out over the next few months.
You can check out which states currently recognize other states’ CCW permits, among other relevant laws that may affect you, through the free ATLAS App.