What Is ‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity’?

In the wake of more and more mass shootings, the House of Representatives passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, a bill that would require each state to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states.

Proponents of the new law claim it would reduce confusion caused by conflicting state laws on gun ownership and ease travel for gun owners. Opponents say that states with strict gun control laws would be forced to follow much looser firearm restrictions passed by other states. So how would concealed carry reciprocity actually work?

Gun Control

A concealed carry permit allows a gun owner to carry a firearm on or close to the body, but not in plain view (as opposed to open carry laws that allow you to carry a gun in public in full view). But different states have different criteria for obtaining a concealed carry permit. Some states require applicants to prove "good moral character" before obtaining a concealed carry permit; others only require an applicant to meet minimum state and federal requirements; and some states ban concealed carry in certain places or whole cities.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would treat those permits like drivers' licenses, requiring that states with more restrictive permit laws recognize permits from less restrictive jurisdictions. As Vox put it:

"California currently restricts its residents from carrying concealed handguns in San Francisco. With this potential new law, the state can still enforce that rule.
What California can't do is stop someone visiting San Francisco from Arizona — which doesn't require a permit — from carrying a concealed firearm while in the city."

Firearm Safety

The old saw for supporters for the bill goes like this: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." But that might not always be the case. Vox points to 2017 study that found that states that tend to have stricter standards had a 6.5 percent lower total homicide rates than those with more permissive restrictions on concealed carry permits, and a 10.6 percent lower handgun homicide rate.

In addition, the Violence Policy Center reports at least 1,119 deaths via lawful concealed carry permit holders that were not ruled as self-defense in the past ten years, including 31 mass shootings (those that cause three or more deaths) carried out by concealed carry permit holders.

There is good evidence the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act will lead to more people carrying handguns outside the home. And there is little evidence that it will make us any safer.

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