As we reported last November, the ongoing effort to fully vindicate the fundamental, individual right to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense took a major step forward with House passage of H.R. 822, the "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011." The bill, sponsored by Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), has 245 cosponsors and was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 272-154.
After passage in the House, the bill was sent to the Senate, where it remains. Since November, the Senate has failed to take any significant action on the bill.
Recently, the Attorneys General of 22 states and the territory of Guam wrote a letter of support for H.R. 822 to Reps. Stearns and Shuler, stating in part, "While some have suggested this legislation would endanger public safety, our experience suggests the opposite. Individuals with concealed carry permits from our states have proven to be more law-abiding than non-licensees, and in many instances have been able to defend themselves and others effectively from criminal attack. Many of our states also have laws recognizing out-of-state permits, and people carrying concealed handguns under those laws have done so without any unusual problems."
The Attorneys General also urged the Senate to take action on the bill.
H.R. 822 would allow any person with a valid state-issued concealed firearm permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms for lawful purposes. A state's laws governing where concealed firearms may be carried would apply within its borders. The bill applies to D.C., Puerto Rico and U.S. territories. It would not create a federal licensing system; rather, it would require the states to recognize each others' carry permits, just as they recognize drivers' licenses and carry permits held by armored car guards. Rep. Stearns has introduced such legislation since 1995.
To read the letter in full, please click here.