Jerry Henry: the Importance of National Reciprocity

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 9: Second Amendment activist Joseph Gabriele of Littleton, Colorado gathers with other activists in support of gun ownership on January 9, 2013 at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, Colorado. Lawmakers are calling for tougher gun legislation after recent mass shootings at an Aurora, Colorado movie …
Marc Piscotty/Getty

Today, way too many people, in my opinion, are too frivolous with not only their God-given rights but those enumerated in the Constitution as well.

These rights represent the very essence of life in the United States and without these rights or the free exercise thereof, we become no better off than any other country on Earth.  None of the enumerated rights in the Constitution are more important than those enumerated in the Second Amendment, i.e., the right to keep and bear arms.

The Second Amendment was written into the Constitution’s Bill of Rights in order for the citizens of the United States to have the ability to ward off all enemies, both foreign and domestic, including those of an overbearing government.  Included is the ability to protect ourselves and our families from those wishing to harm us.  And, the exercise of these rights should be available to citizens no matter where we travel throughout this great country.  However, such is not the case in today’s world.

Today, unless you live in a particular state that has signed reciprocity agreements with other states, your right to defend yourself and/or your family may end at the state line.  Let that sink in.  When you cross a state line, you may lose your right to self-protection.  States such as California, Delaware, and New York offer no reciprocity with any other state, leaving all nonresidents defenseless as soon as they cross over that imaginary state line.  No other right is treated with such disdain.

HR 38—which the U.S. House of Representatives passed on December 6—would rectify this abominable situation by requiring all 50 states to give reciprocity to all citizens with a valid firearm license issued by any other state.  It would, of course, like current reciprocal agreements between various states, require the license holder to abide by the laws of the state in which he or she is carrying a firearm.  This bill would treat the firearms license in the same manner states now treat driver’s licenses and marriage licenses.  (Marriage licenses are issued by each state and all are recognized by all 50 states along with the privileges that are afforded by them.)

Many people in this country do not travel to other states for pleasure but are forced to travel there because of their job requirements.  Should not someone be held responsible for the safety of these citizens?  Who?  Certainly not their company as their company is not responsible for their safety in their home state.  Law enforcement?  We see daily how well that works. No matter how good or how hard law enforcement works, they simply cannot be everywhere.  No, it is the law-abiding citizen who is responsible for him/herself in their home state as these people are their own first-responder.

Why should a Constitutionally enumerated right be treated differently?  It should in no way be treated differently and no law-abiding citizen should ever be forced to be defenseless no matter where or for what reason they travel in this country.  HR 38 is a bill that is long overdue, as the time is now to rectify many states’ reluctance to allow all law-abiding citizens the right to self-protection no matter where they may travel.

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


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