Some politicians would have you believe that concealed-carry reciprocity would do nothing more than to allow criminals from a state with a lower legal threshold to carry to wreak havoc in other states. But that’s not the intent at all.
Indeed, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 would do the opposite, by protecting law-abiding citizens who would otherwise face trouble simply by crossing state lines with a gun on their person or in their vehicle—people like Brian Fletcher of North Carolina, who in 2015 was sent to New Jersey to repair cell phone towers after major thunderstorms had damaged utilities in the Garden State.
He pulled his vehicle into a parking lot so he could get a nap between jobs and a police officer stopped by to check on why he was there. Reports say the officer and Fletcher chatted amiably for a few minutes and Fletcher said he was there for storm repairs. The policeman asked for identification later and Fletcher, in accordance with North Carolina protocol, volunteered that he had a gun in his truck. Fletcher was subsequently handcuffed, arrested and put in the lockup for a night until he posted bail.
“I never thought this would happen in our country. Just by going 400 miles across an invisible state line, it was like going into another country where my rights didn’t seem to exist,” Fletcher said in an interview with America’s 1st Freedom after the incident.
Fletcher ultimately earned a pardon from New Jersey’s then-Gov. Chris Christie, who said at the time, “We need to be smarter about the way we do this. What I don't want is for folks to feel like they can't come into our state, and be able to travel through it, or visit it, and have to make sure they go on the Internet and look up exactly how you're supposed to be dealing with the gun laws.” But who can predict what will happen with each subsequent governor? And who’s to say what the outcome would be in other jurisdictions?
Fletcher’s case wasn’t the only time someone who carries a gun for protection has unwittingly run afoul of the law in New Jersey, which offers no reciprocity to people who have carry permits from outside of that state. Christie issued multiple pardons to otherwise law-abiding out-of-staters facing firearm-related charges during his tenure.
After Republicans scored a trifecta in November 2016—winning the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the presidency—gun owners looked forward to the possibility that no one would have to go through such ordeals in the future.
Now we are one step closer to a more consistent treatment of our Right to Carry. In late December, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 38 (H.R. 38). It has been sent to the Senate and awaits action once Congress reconvenes.