The Idiocy of Reciprocal Concealed Carry

The Congress is currently considering a bill called “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017,” The idea is that if a resident of a state that allows concealed carry travels to another state where concealed carry is illegal, law enforcement in that state must recognize the law of the person’s resident state. Needless to say, Republican Congressmen are getting a lot of pressure from the NRA to pass this bill.

The effect would be that laws would be enforced on some people and not on others, a nightmare situation for law enforcement. It violates a principle that most people understand: When you travel to another state or another country, you are subject to the laws of that state or country. What if we had the same forced reciprocity for statutory rape cases? A guy from any one of a dozen states (mostly in the South) could visit California, where the age of consent is 18, and seduce a 16-year-old girl and police would have to look the other way. There are probably lots of other variations in laws between states. Imagine the chaos if all states were required, by Federal mandate, to recognize the laws of other states and allow them to override local laws.

But we are only talking about concealed carry of firearms here. Is there anything in the Second Amendment to the Constitution that even suggests such a right? No. In fact, in District of Columbia vs. Heller, the Supreme Court decision that affirmed an individual’s right to gun ownership, Justice Antonin Scalia noted that courts have upheld restrictions on concealed carry since the 19th century. There is irony here. NRA supporters are mostly Right Wingers who are adamant opponents of the federal government, and favor “states rights.” But they are just fine with the Fed overriding state gun laws.

There are many cases where states do recognize legal documents from other states. Take driver’s licenses, for instance. The difference is that such reciprocity agreements are voluntary compacts between the states. They are not forced by Federal law.

There are other arguments that proponents of this bill are trotting out, but even some conservative legal scholars are skeptical that it will pass Constitutional muster. You can read more about this issue, and the arguments, here.


Bert Bigelow graduated from the University of Michigan engineering school, and then pursued a career in software design.  He has always enjoyed writing, and since retirement, has produced short essays on many subjects.  His main interests are in the areas of politics and religion, and the intersection of the two.  Many of his writings are posted on his web site,  You can contact him at

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