Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. The legislation would allow law abiding gun owners with valid state-issued concealed firearm permits to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that also allows concealed firearms. Congressman Westmoreland is a cosponsor of the legislation and voted in favor of the bill.
"The Constitution guarantees our right to "bear and keep' firearms," stated Westmoreland. "And that right shouldn't end when you leave your house. Many states, including the State of Georgia, have concealed-carry permits because they know that self-defense doesn't end at your front door. Unfortunately, since this is done on a state level, there is no mechanism to allow other states to recognize Georgia's carry permit -- even in states that also have carry permits. As an avid hunter and gun owner myself, I have always championed our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment right to bear arms. And the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act will do just that."
There has been some misinformation regarding the impact of the legislation on states' laws circulating on the internet and in the press. Currently, 49 states have laws allowing citizens to carry a concealed firearm in public; only Illinois and the District of Columbia do not. H.R. 822 would not affect Illinois or the District of Columbia -- gun owners with concealed-carry permits in other states would not be allowed to carry their concealed weapon in public in either place. In addition, H.R. 822 would require gun owners to comply with the limitations and restrictions established under each state's laws. For example, in Georgia, gun owners with a concealed-carry permit cannot bring his or her firearm into a place of worship. So if a citizen of Alaska with a legal concealed-carry permit issued by the State of Alaska visited Georgia, he or she must comply with the limitations established in Georgia and could not bring a firearm into a place of worship -- even though that is allowed in Alaska. Therefore it does not change any existing state laws.
"Unfortunately, some groups who oppose the rights of gun owners have been spreading false information about the impact of this bill," stated Westmoreland. "H.R. 822 does not create a federal licensing program for guns nor does it establish a federal standard for the concealed-carry permit. It simply requires states with their own concealed-carry permits to recognize other states' permits, just as states recognize other states' driver's licenses."
The legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. It will now be sent to the Senate. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has not expressed any intent to bring this bipartisan legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.