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National Freedom to Carry 2017

“H.R. 38: Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017” (Hudson, R-NC 8th District)
01/12/2017 Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, still there (2/28/17).

NOTE: This bill will likely go through amendments before enactment. It will likely be subject to the "bureaucracy affect," where local "officials" interpret it to suit their preferences, since many do not approve of what this accomplishes -- it frees ordinary Americans to keep and bear arms nationwide, with conditions. Take steps to avoid being a test case.

Introduced Jan 3, 2017. The best national-carry bill so far, we'll do well to enact it, though as written it has some serious problems in need of change. Leftists are likely to fight this one, their hatred for our rights is well known.

The Gist:
If you can legally have a firearm, and you're carrying valid government-issued photo ID, and you have a valid concealed-carry license, or you are simply entitled to carry concealed in your state, you can have or carry a concealed handgun in any state that either makes a carry license available to its residents, or doesn't prohibit concealed carry for lawful purpose. That now includes all 50 states. The bill language uses multiple terms (e.g., possessing, transporting, shipping or receiving; license or permit, etc.) for precision, replaced here with single terms to get the point across clearly. The bill itself is almost five pages long.

The statute doesn't say it in so many words, but this is full recognition of Constitutional Carry -- no government interference with the right to bear arms -- for people from states that have reached permitless Freedom To Carry (FTC; see also, Diplomatic Carry, the next step up, America has 13 FTC states so far, with 20 actively working on it.

The new law does this by referring to a person who, “is entitled to carry a concealed firearm in the State in which the person resides.” That's everyone in FTC states. But watch this word entitled with care, it is a cornerstone of liberty or a brick in the wall.

So-called “gun-free zones” get federal recognition. The law specifically recognizes state laws that allow private persons to create gun-free zones, either real or make-believe, and the same for state or local governments. Though not explicit, the direct implication is that Freedom To Carry excludes “authorized” gun-free zones, whether real or pretend.

Freedom from Arrest, Sorta. The statute provides that, if you are carrying and in compliance, you “may not be arrested or detained” for anything related to the firearm. If that said “shall not” instead of “may not” it would eliminate a lot of dangerous wiggle room. You do remain subject to arrest while carrying if, “there is probable cause to believe that the person is doing so in a manner not provided for by this section.” It's not clear what this might encompass, though it seems to say you must be in compliance to be protected. Proper ID is “facially valid” and “prima facie evidence” that you are correctly licensed under the law. The protection does not seem to extend to any other violations or offenses.

Balance the “may not be arrested” part however against this language that comes later: “When a person asserts this section as a defense in a criminal proceeding...”

So you could end up caught in Tell-it-to-the-Judge. To discourage state and local governments from acting against you, first, the prosecution has the explicit burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard, that you were out of compliance. Next, if you use this law as a defense and the government loses, they must pay your legal bills.

For extra measure, the statute includes a guarantee similar to 42 USC §1983, a right to a private claim of action against the state, including damages, other relief and legal bills. If you are deprived of any “right, privilege or immunity” secured by this law, using any “statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage” of any state, you can sue. This seems to set up a conflict with the permission for no-guns signs in section (b)(2): They can set up no-gun zones and you can sue if your rights are denied. The right to sue is only against the government, private zones in section (b)(1) are not mentioned.

A new definition of handgun is introduced, only for the purpose of this statute. Redefining terms is always a great cause for concern, unexpected results frequently lurk, and this one has several dark corners. Nothing prevents authorities from taking definitions from one place once enacted and using them in other places, “as matters of settled law.”

The statute says: ''The term 'handgun' includes any magazine for use in a handgun and any ammunition loaded into the handgun or its magazine.” It seems the bill seeks to protect a traveler in an unfriendly jurisdiction, who might be cited just for the magazines or ammo, because in some states, magazine size matters, as can ammo type. The gun you carry includes its ammo, but this doesn't quite say that.

If this passes, magazines become handguns by definition. Possession of handguns introduces all sorts of complexity, that now starts applying to empty or loaded magazines, complexity skyrockets, rights shrink. The bill says “any magazine for use in a handgun” so any magazine is affected.

Ammo Redefined. Regarding ammo, only ammo loaded into “the handgun” is a handgun for the purpose of this law (loose ammo remains plain old ammo). The implication is ammo loaded into the gun the person carries. And next, ammo loaded into magazines for that handgun, though not necessarily in it, are handguns. If you have a loaded or empty magazine you have a handgun. If you then acquire a matching pistol, do you have two handguns? Is a six-shooter seven guns? Those are the easy problems. Walking past a school zone with an empty magazine would almost violate state versions of the next law.

National assets are open to armed citizens. A person carrying under the terms of this statute may do so in any public areas of the National Parks, a National Wildlife Refuge, public Bureau of Land Management lands, Army Corps of Engineers land, and Bureau of Reclamation land.


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  • Freelance writer Alan Korwin is a founder and past president of the Arizona Book Publishing Association. With his wife Cheryl he operates Bloomfield Press, the largest producer and distributor of gun-law books in the country. Here writing as "The Uninvited Ombudsman," Alan covers the day's stories as they ought to read. Read more.

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