Federally mandated concealed carry reciprocity would be a severe encroachment on states’ rights. It offends the basic traditions of federalism on which the country was founded. The conviction made Hamilton legally prohibited from owning firearms under federal law, but because of loopholes in federal and state gun laws, Hamilton was able to acquire several guns. And because of a weak permitting system in the state of Idaho, the “card-carrying Aryan Nations member” was able to obtain a state permit to carry a concealed firearm. Other states that have exercised their police powers by refusing to recognize standard Idaho permits include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. A broad and impressive array of law enforcement organizations have spoken out against automatic concealed carry reciprocity. According to the executive director of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, “varying state standards make it very difficult to know if a carry permit from another state is valid.”Letter from Karen Renshaw, Executive Director, Colorado Chiefs of Police Association, to Senator Michael Bennet, concerning Protect America’s Police Officers, Our Citizens, and States Rights by OPPOSING the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 (H. Our nation’s law enforcement officers serve on the front lines of the fight against gun violence, and know best what policies reduce public safety risks and what policies exacerbate the problem.
Because law enforcement has no way to verify that someone presenting an out-of-state permit is in-fact a law-abiding visitor to their state, federally mandated reciprocity would turn interactions with out-of-state visitors — like routine traffic stops — into dangerous, high-risk situations. In 1991, at age 21, Hamilton was charged with domestic abuse. On various occasions in the years that followed, he was charged with aggravated assault, drug possession, pulling a gun on his landlord and threatening to “blow [his] ‘f-in’ head off,” and killing an ex-girlfriend’s puppy whose back he broke after picking it up by its leash, choking, and kicking it. Law §§ 520.12(1), 530.11(1)(e), 530.141(1)(a), (2); N. As a result, an extensive array of law enforcement organizations has renounced Congressional proposals to mandate automatic reciprocity. Among the majority of states whose laws would be effectively nullified by the federal government if Congress mandated automatic reciprocity are five states that border Idaho — Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming — as well other, diverse states across the country, from Colorado and New Mexico to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Moreover, each state has made unique decisions not only about who is too dangerous to carry concealed guns in public, but about which people are too dangerous to own firearms at all — including, for example, people convicted of stalking, assault, or violent misdemeanors. If a person has a permit to carry concealed in any state in the country, federally mandated reciprocity would enable him to carry a loaded gun in every state other than his own. Under this proposed “concealed carry reciprocity” legislation, the federal government would force every state to recognize concealed carry permits issued by every other state — no matter how lax or ineffective a given state’s permitting standards. Federally mandated concealed carry reciprocity would upend each state’s carefully considered judgments about public safety. Under this scheme, even if a state has determined that public safety requires live-fire training for permit holders, the state would have to allow permit-holders from other states without any training requirement to carry guns on their streets. States that determined teenagers too young to buy alcohol or criminals convicted of assault or stalking should not be granted concealed carry permits would have to allow such people with out-of-state permits to carry hidden, loaded guns within their borders.