Jerry Henry: Is National Reciprocity a Good Idea?

OLYMPIA, WA - JANUARY 19: A demonstrator carries a handgun while listening to speakers at a pro-gun rally on January 19, 2013 in Olympia, Washington. The Guns Across America campaign drew thousands to state capitals, including over 1,000 demonstrators in Olympia. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
David Ryder/Getty Images

Some people ask, “Is national reciprocity for concealed carry a good idea?” The answer is, “No! It is a great idea.”

Arguments for or against national reciprocity pit some staunch gun rights advocates against each other. Some argue for states’ rights and efforts to keep the federal government out of state’s business. State laws are sovereign and allow states to determine their own laws. Even so, there are currently many federal laws that override and prevent states from passing certain laws.

I will agree that the national reciprocity law, as written, might violate federal law or open licensees to federal scrutiny as it allows persons who cannot, for whatever reason, obtain a license in their home state to supersede licensing requirements in their home state by obtaining a non-resident license from another state. This portion of the bill would force states, via federal statute, to allow carry in states that should have the right to issue or deny licenses.

Further, I believe all states should be shall issue and be required to issue licenses to all applicants who are not denied by federal or state prohibitions. One should not have to be a “good ole boy” in order to qualify for a license.

Laws should simply address carry licenses the way many other licenses are addressed. With a driver’s license issued in Georgia, I can drive my vehicle in any other state in this country as well as many foreign countries, providing I follow the laws of the state or country I am in at the time. My marriage license is treated the same way.

I fail to see the difference between a driver’s license and a firearms license. If I am in Texas with a driver’s license from Georgia, I can certainly drive, providing I follow the laws in Texas. I feel it should be the same with firearms licenses, as currently possible between Georgia and Texas through reciprocity agreements. National reciprocity would correct this requirement.

Currently, there are no reciprocity agreements between states to allow drivers to utilize their home state driver’s licenses in any other state. There are also no reciprocity agreements for marriage licenses. Rather, marriage and driver’s licenses are honored because federal law does not allow states to discriminate by refusing to honor either one. So, why the necessity for reciprocity agreements between states for a citizen to exercise a God-given, constitutionally enumerated right?

Maybe because the gun prohibitionists think guns are too dangerous? We all know better! While almost all vehicle deaths are considered accidents, even when substance abuse is considered, this is not the case with firearms. Suicides account for about two-thirds of the total number of firearm deaths. When suicide, LEO, justified, and self-defense deaths are removed, homicides have historically accounted for about 11,000 per year — or about one-third of the total number of vehicle deaths.

I have said for many years that I should be able to carry anywhere a criminal carries his firearm, which just happens to be about everywhere. National reciprocity would put me one step closer to that goal.

Jerry Henry is the executive director of Georgia Carry and a guest columnist for “Down Range with AWR Hawkins.”


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