Saturday, November 26, 2016
Are Guns Legal in Your Town, but Not Next Door? by Rob Morse
New York won’t recognize the licenses from Connecticut or Massachusetts. New Jersey won’t recognize New York or Pennsylvania. California cops won’t recognize your license from Arizona, Nevada or Oregon.
I’m talking about the license to carry a concealed weapon in public, and with over 15 million licensed concealed carriers in the U.S., recognition between states is a study in contrasts. Some 15 states say a law-abiding adult can legally carry a loaded firearm in public without any permit at all. In contrast, a visitor carrying without a recognized license in California is usually charged with a felony and faces years in jail. Welcome to the bizarre nightmare endured by honest gun owners every day.
Recognizing the permits and licenses issued by other states is broadly called reciprocity. Politicians say a number of factors are involved. The decision to recognize your carry permit from another state isn’t a matter of public safety. Concealed carry holders are the most law abiding segment of society. Concealed carry holders are more law abiding and less likely to commit a legal violation with a firearm than are the police.
Permit reciprocity isn’t a an issue of protecting the public from risks. For comparison, we recognize drivers licenses between states and territories. The licenses vary widely in the training, the age, and the levels of insurance required before you may legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. The public risks are real since automobile accidents injure far more people than firearms accidents.
Recognizing out-of-state legal documents is nothing new. We recognize the legal certificates and decrees issued by other states every day. For example, we recognize death certificates, divorce decrees, and adoption certificates even though those laws vary widely from state to state. Federal judges mandated the recognition of marriage between states even though the states have significantly different marriage laws.