If you have a right-to-carry permit, it’s almost certain you are a law-abiding citizen who takes great care to follow the relevant state laws regulating firearms. But unless you know the laws in every state that you traverse, you risk jail time and a felony conviction that could change your life forever.
Photo by Don Jones
Just ask Brian Aitken, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for carrying unloaded handguns—purchased in Colorado—in his car in New Jersey. Brian ultimately served only four months of his sentence before being released under an executive order from Gov. Chris Christie, but he still lives with his felon status that keeps him from visiting his son and makes it difficult to even rent an apartment.
Or ask Shaneen Allen, whose story has recently taken a positive turn after she received a full pardon from Gov. Christie. She was a new gun owner whose understanding of the law was largely limited to her home state, Pennsylvania, and she was arrested while driving to a birthday party in neighboring New Jersey. She spent 46 days in jail before managing to make bail.
Photo by Tom Sperduto
These horror stories hail from the Garden State, but make no mistake: People are also being unjustly prosecuted elsewhere because of violating the patchwork of differing state firearm laws.
"The constitutional right to self-defense does not stop at a state’s borders,” says Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director. “Law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise this fundamental right while traveling across state lines."
That’s why national right-to-carry reciprocity is an idea whose time has come. Such a law would mean that you, as a gun owner, could exercise your right of self-defense in other jurisdictions that recognize concealed carry, being held to whatever standard has been set by your state of residence.
There are currently four NRA-sponsored bills in Congress designed to implement national right-to-carry reciprocity. You can contact your U.S. senators and U.S. representative by phone at (202) 224-3121, or by using the “Write Your Lawmakers” form at NRA-ILA.org.
This might be the year that the individual right to carry becomes a reality across our great nation. But it won’t happen unless you and other proud gun owners speak up.