A convergence of state and federal legislation could ease restrictions on carrying concealed firearms nationwide, reports the Wall Street Journal. It is a long-sought goal of gun-rights activists; opponents say it would threaten public safety. More states are giving their residents the right to carry a concealed handgun without permission from authorities, including two this year, bringing the total to 12. Congress is considering legislation to make that right portable across state lines. New Hampshire eliminated permits this year, allowing anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it concealed in public. If bills from Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) become law, a New Hampshire resident could bring a concealed handgun to any other state, even those like New York that require their own residents to undergo vetting and obtain approval from law-enforcement officials for the same right.
The federal measure could hasten the spread of permitless-carry laws, which were rejected in at least 15 states in the most recent legislative sessions. States with strict permit regimes likely would face pressure to lower their standards to make carrying guns as easy for their residents as for out-of-state visitors. The National Rifle Association calls the reciprocity bills its highest priority, citing a confusing patchwork of agreements among states that allow concealed-carry permit holders to travel with their guns to some places but not others. Gun-control groups describe the bills as an attempt to drag gun-safety standards down across the country. John Feinblatt of Everytown for Gun Safety said, “The NRA’s ‘concealed carry reciprocity’ would only make matters worse—if practically everyone can carry across the country, then it’s anybody’s guess who’s trained, law-abiding, and responsible, and who isn’t.”