U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson is touting the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act as “a simple, common-sense bill that seeks to protect law-abiding citizens.”
The bill, which passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, would allow people with a state-issued concealed carry permit to travel across state lines with authorized firearms.
States vary widely in their respective laws regarding the concealed carrying of a firearm. What is permissible in one might not be in another. Hudson’s legislation essentially equals the enforcement issue.
Speaking to reporters during a conference call on Thursday, Hudson said he feels confident the measure, which is co-sponsored by 210 Republicans and three Democrats, will advance.
“I’ve got a commitment from leadership that we’ll have the legislation on the floor by the end of year,” he said.
According to the bill, gun owners would be required to be eligible to possess a firearm under federal law. That requires a background check. They also would have to carry valid photo identification and a concealed carry permit.
Hudson, a Republican whose district includes Moore County, said he hopes the bill will prevent concealed-carry permit holders from “becoming criminals when they cross invisible state lines.”
James Pedersen, director of Veteran Services for Moore County, ran afoul of laws concerning the interstate transportation of firearms in 2014. Pedersen says he used his gun, which was properly permitted in North Carolina, to defend his family from two men who were attempting to steal his vehicle from a parking lot in New Jersey.
No shots were fired, but Pedersen was fined and sentenced to probation. He was pardoned in June by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
First sponsored by Hudson, the bill’s progress breaks the standstill on gun-related legislation in the wake of mass shootings in Las Vegas, where 58 people were murdered during a country music concert on Oct. 1, and in Texas, where 26 people were murdered at a church in Sutherland Springs on Nov. 5.
“There was obviously some sensitivity after the Las Vegas shooting,” Hudson said. “But frankly, the most recent tragic shooting that happened in Texas really, in my opinion, increased the calls for this legislation.”
Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspected gunman in Sutherland Springs, was reportedly leaving the church when he was shot by a civilian. Kelly’s body was later found with multiple gunshot wounds after he crashed his vehicle during a police chase.
“A private citizen, a ‘good guy with a gun,’ actually stopped the shooter,” Hudson said. “Some speculated that (Kelley) could have continued his rampage at another location.”
Hudson has at least one extremely powerful ally on his side: the National Rifle Association, which has called the bill its “highest legislative priority in Congress.”
“Concealed carry reciprocity is already the norm in most states,” the NRA says on its website. “This legislation is merely a commonsense follow-up to this successful initiative.”
Groups that oppose such gun legislation have also taken a keen interest in the legislation.
“Knowing the extent of the gun violence epidemic, it is unconscionable and irresponsible that Congress could even consider a bill that would weaken existing laws and make it easier for dangerous people, like domestic abusers, to have guns in public spaces,” said Renee Hopkins, the CEO of Alliance for Gun Responsibility.
“This is the gun lobby’s top legislative priority for a reason,” she said. “It would undermine state gun laws and allow people with dangerous histories and no background checks carry hidden, loaded handguns in public. With one law, the gun lobby would undermine dozens of state and local laws that have a proven track record of saving lives.”
The measure has also been met with opposition from officials in states and cities with more restrictive requirements. Hudson dismisses as unfounded the concerns of those who worry the bill might contribute to the proliferation of illicit firearms.
“Our legislation doesn’t change any state or municipality’s ability to limit where you can carry and what you can carry,” he said. “It simply says (other states) have to recognize that document.”
In a news release on Wednesday, Hudson’s office stressed the law “has nothing to do with the purchase of guns.”
“It would not alter access to guns,” the release said, “and it would not change the federal law requiring background checks.”
A Senate companion bill to Hudson’s sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting action.