By Michael Hill
Shaneen Allen learned the hard way that her Pennsylvania permit to carry a concealed handgun was useless just across the border in New Jersey. It’s one of nine states, and the District of Columbia, that does not recognize other states’ concealed carry laws.
“I fought, because I was not going to let them take my life from me after I worked so hard,” explained Allen.
New Jersey jailed, prosecuted and threatened to imprison her for illegal possession. Then, the governor pardoned her. Allen’s case led to the state taking away the jail threat, but not the prosecution of out-of-state, law-abiding gun owners caught with a firearm here. But, that could change.
One North Carolina congressman proposes to allow qualified concealed gun owners from one state to carry and possess in another state that permits concealed carry. The same way one state recognizes another’s driver’s licenses.
Alexander Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said, “This allows an individual, that may live in another state, to be able to protect themselves in every state, which is the same with every constitutional right that we have.”
Last week, the NJ2AS’ lobbying of New Jersey’s five Republicans in Congress paid off. Rep. Tom MacArthur became the first in the state delegation to co-sponsor the bill. The third district congressman declined NJTV News’ request for an on-camera interview but gave this statement: “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act will require states to recognize each other’s gun carry permits, while recognizing states’ rights to create their own firearms laws — similar to how a driver’s license works. It will ensure that what happened to Shaneen Allen does not happen to other law-abiding citizens.” He later spoke with NJTV News Correspondent Brenda Flanagan on the subject.
Rev. Robert Moore said, “This is the other irony of this, it flies in the face of what is usually a cardinal rule for Republicans. Something they believe is very, very important in terms of states’ rights. This tramples on those.”
The Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action is waging war against the bill.
“Many states have looser laws than New Jersey. We probably have the second or third strongest and I think that has benefited us, because we have the sixth lowest per capita rate of gun deaths. … Once in a while, if it’s used properly it can be a good thing, but in most cases it actually makes us less safe to have more guns,” said CFPA’s Executive Director Moore.
“There’s never been a correlation that stronger laws, or more laws, have led to reduced violence. If that was the case then Trenton, Camden and Newark would be gun-free utopia and violence-free utopias,” said Roubian.
Both Florida and Utah issue concealed carry permits to non-residents. Gun for Hire in Woodland Park advertises it’ll train applicants and take care of all the paperwork. But the irony is, even if a New Jersey resident goes that route and gets a concealed carry permit, New Jersey still would not recognize or accept it.
NJ2AS and other gun rights advocates say the bill has a good shot at becoming law with Republicans in control in Washington. The bill has more than 160 — and growing — co-sponsors in the House and more than 30 in the Senate.
“It’s a wild west fantasy,” said Moore.
“Making the innocent defenseless is the greatest act of violence anyone could ever support,” Roubian said.
Gun rights advocates say concealed carry reciprocity is long overdue but gun control advocates say the bill is a dream for the gun lobby and a nightmare for public safety and would make the weakest link the law of the land.