There are major differences in driver’s license laws and concealed carry laws. Driver’s license applicants are required to meet core public safety standards with very little variation among states. As a result, states voluntarily recognize each other’s driver’s licenses. To the contrary, concealed carry standards vary dramatically across the country — including on gun safety training, disqualifying violent criminal convictions, and even the requirement to get a permit at all. And while driver’s licenses are almost universally verifiable, law enforcement often has no way to verify out-of-state carry permits. What’s more, under concealed carry reciprocity (CCR), residents of the twelve states that do not require a permit to carry a gun in public would not even have a permit to present to an officer of another state. CCR would not create a national standard for who can carry hidden, loaded handguns in public. Instead, it would force all states to accept every other state’s standards, including those states with weaker or no standards. Every state requires a driver’s license to drive a car, but twelve states don’t require a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public and 19 states don’t require any safety training. Forcing every state to allow these individuals to carry concealed handguns would be like forcing states to let visitors drive on their highways without a driver’s license and without having passed an eye, written, or road test.
The primary effect of CCR is the undermining of state laws:
CCR would override states’ carefully crafted laws on who may carry concealed handguns within their borders. Concealed carry standards vary dramatically across the country. For example, 23 states allow concealed carry by many people with violent misdemeanor convictions, 19 states don’t require firearm safety training, and twelve states don’t require a permit at all. CCR would force all states to allow these violent offenders, the untrained, and people with no permit to carry hidden, loaded guns on their streets. H.R. 38 would even allow a person who is denied a permit in his home state to simply get an out-of-state permit, then use that permit to carry back at home.
In addition, H.R. 38 overrides state and local laws on where firearms may be carried—overriding local laws on the carrying of firearms on private property, including laws that block carrying in bars or daycares.
Existing federal law already protects law-abiding gun owners transporting firearms as they travel through any state to get to their destination, even if they are unfamiliar with the laws in each state. CCR does not create a national standard for concealed carriers across the country. Rather than making our laws consistent or uniform, CCR would force all states to recognize the weakest gun laws in the country — forcing states to allow people with no firearms training and people with dangerous criminal histories to carry concealed handguns within their borders.
CCR will make it easier to convicted felons to carry concealed handguns across the country.
Twelve states do not require a permit to carry a concealed gun in public, and CCR would force all states to allow residents of these “permitless” states — who may have never been screened by a background check — to carry concealed, loaded guns within their borders. If police stop an out-of-state visitor from one of the twelve permitless states, the person would not have a permit to present to law enforcement — meaning law enforcement would be unable to confirm if the person is a law-abiding gun owner. So while convicted felons are prohibited under federal law from having guns, CCR would wipe out any accountability for people from permitless states.
In addition, some states have such poorly administered permitting systems that many people who don’t qualify for permits actually end up receiving them. For example, a 2007 investigation of Florida’s concealed carry system showed that more than 1,400 permits were issued to offenders who had pled guilty or no contest to felonies. Under CCR, every state would be at the mercy of these failures.
Under current law it is up to each state to choose which, if any, out-of-state permits to recognize. Seventy-five percent of Americans live in one of the 34 states (or DC) that refuse to recognize all or some out-of-state permits, and for nearly one in three Americans, their home state does not recognize any out-of-state permits.
Twelve states currently do not require any permit to carry a concealed gun in public. Under both H.R. 38 and S.446, the other 38 states would be forced to allow these people — who may have never been screened by a background check —to carry concealed guns. CCR would force every state to allow people without any firearms training, certain domestic abusers, violent criminals, and other people with dangerous histories to carry within their borders.
Many of the nation’s largest law enforcement organizations and mayors across the country oppose CCR because it endangers law enforcement and would make their communities less safe.CCR would force states to allow people with violent criminal histories and people lacking any gun safety training to carry guns in their communities.
Forcing states to recognize the weak concealed carry laws of other states is dangerous. Recent research shows that, when states weaken their laws about who can carry a concealed gun in public, violent crime rates rise by 13-15 percent. And a new study in the American Journal of Public Health finds that stronger concealed carry laws are associated with significantly lower rates of firearm homicide.
Everytown Research & Policy is a program of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to understanding and reducing gun violence. Everytown Research & Policy works to do so by conducting methodologically rigorous research, supporting evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge to the American public.