Everyone is asking lots of questions about H.R.38, the Federal concealed carry reciprocity bill that was just passed in the House (and combined with the Fix NICS Act). Here are the droids -- we mean answers -- you're looking for.
Q: Ok, so what happened yesterday (December 6, 2017)?
A: Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R.38. That bill -- which used to be only the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 ("CCRA") -- was combined with H.R.4477 (the Fix NICS Act 2017). Now the CCRA is in Title I, and Fix NICS is in Title II.
Q: What's the next step in the process?
A: Now that H.R.38 was passed by the House, it's up to the Senate to....go through the process all over again. It's a long and winding road, and stuff. The main Senate companion bills are S.446 and S.2135.
Q: When will President Trump sign this into law?
A: Once -- and only if -- the same legislation is passed by the Senate, and assuming it's not amended from the language passed by the House, then it will go to President Trump for his signature. (Or his veto, but that doesn't seem likely.) If there are differences between the legislation passed by the House and Senate, that has to be worked out before they can approve the final legislative text and then send it to the President. If there are things to work out, a conference committee (made up of members from both the Senate and the House) will try to reach a consensus about the different parts of the bill.
Aaaaand, since everyone loves flowcharts (and cover sheets on TPS Reports), here's a handy little flowchart that shows the legislative process. It's simplified, of course, because nothing is simple in legislation.
Q: Does this bill let people who can't have guns, have guns?
A: Uhm, no. A lot of people who hate Second Amendment rights have been, in technical terms, "lying" about what this bill does and does not do.
If someone is a violent felon who is prohibited from possessing guns under state or federal law, then they will remain prohibited from possessing guns under state or federal law. H.R.38 doesn't change that.
Q: If H.R.38 becomes law, could I carry a handgun on a non-resident concealed carry permit?
A: If you are not a prohibited person, then yes -- mainly.
The bill does provide a way that a law-abiding, non-prohibited person can carry a "concealed handgun" under a permit that was issued by another state. See § 926D(a):
"Notwithstanding any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof (except as provided in subsection (b)) and subject only to the requirements of this section, a person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm, who is carrying a valid identification document containing a photograph of the person, and who is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm or is entitled to carry a concealed firearm in the State in which the person resides, may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, in any State that—
(1) has a statute under which residents of the State may apply for a license or permit to carry a concealed firearm; or
(2) does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes."
Q: Wait, what? Where does it say that?
A: If you read carefully, it's in there. Here's how to parse out the legalese:
- "Notwithstanding any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof (except as provided in subsection (b)) and subject only to the requirements of this section
- a person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm,
- who is carrying a valid identification document containing a photograph of the person,
- and who is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm
- or is entitled to carry a concealed firearm in the State in which the person resides
- may possess or carry a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce,
- in any State that has a statute under which residents of the State may apply for a license or permit to carry a concealed firearm; or
- does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes."
The operative language is: "who is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm..."
The law of "a State" is not necessarily "law of" your State [of residence]. 😉
Q: But won't H.R.38 allow anyone to carry anything, anywhere?
A: As we said in the last few answers: no, it doesn't.
A person must be "not prohibited," "carrying a valid identification document containing a photograph of the person," and "carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm" ("or is entitled to carry a concealed firearm in the State in which the person resides") in order to carry "a concealed handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce," and only then in a State "that has a statute under which residents of the State may apply for a license or permit to carry a concealed firearm" or that "does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms by residents of the State for lawful purposes."
And, proposed § 926D(b) says that the law "shall not be construed to supersede or limit the laws of any State that [ ] permit private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property; or [ ] prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park." (Back in March, we told House members that this is something they should fix to better protect law-abiding gun owners.)
So, if you're a "regular" law-abiding citizen, there are still limits to who can carry what, and where. (People with bar cards and robes sometimes call things like these "time, place, and manner" restrictions.)
For example, under H.R.38, if someone grabbed a cup of joe at Chicory Coffee in Sacramento, crossed "L" street, and then conceal-carried a handgun while gazing at the beautiful, unfenced park outside the California Capitol Building -- perhaps to reflect upon [or hurl expletives at] that wondrous gun control mothership -- they would not be protected from prosecution under Cal. Penal Code § 171c(a)(1).
(Because we know you're dying to know, that statutes says that "Any person who brings a loaded firearm....upon the grounds of the State Capitol, which is bounded by 10th, L, 15th, and N Streets in the City of Sacramento, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both such imprisonment and fine, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.")
That means that, while H.R.38 will very helpfully expand access to the right to bear arms, it does not function as a legal equivalent to a resident's state's carry license -- and may not provide identical protections and benefits. Just something to keep in mind.
And, as we pointed out in our written letter testimony, a recent amendment to H.R.38 (by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA) that was passed by the House Judiciary Committee gives “extra-special gun rights” to Federal judges. The new § 926E would allow any Federal judge who “is not prohibited by federal law from receiving a firearm” to carry any concealed firearm—not only a handgun—in “any State.” (We believe that § 926E is both deplorable and likely unconstitutional.)
So, no -- H.R.38 does not allow anyone to carry anything, anywhere.
Q: Are there other things about H.R.38 and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act that FPC would like to see improved?
A: Yep -- and we've outlined them in detail in our various letters to House members. (See, e.g., here, here, here, and here.)
We'll be making the same requests to members of the Senate. And you can, too.
Q: Doesn't H.R.38 ban "bump stocks"?
A: No, it doesn't.
The bill passed by the House would mandate that, "within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall prepare and submit to the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate a written report that....(1) specifies the number of instances in which a bump stock has been used in the commission of a crime in the United States; (2) specifies the types of firearms with which a bump stock has been so used; and (3) contains the opinion of the Attorney General as to whether subparagraphs (B)(i) and (C)(i) of section 924(c)(1) of title 18, United States Code, apply to all instances in which a bump stock has been used in the commission of a crime of violence in the United States."
Q: What is NICS and why do I care?
A: NICS is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. You care because....we have no idea. Why do you care about NICS?
Q: Ok, I've heard all kinds of things about this Fix NICS Act thing. What's the deal with that?
A: Well, Fix NICS is a proposed Federal law that would repeal the Second Amendment and appropriate one hundred billion dollars for an old fashioned, Australian-style gun confiscation.
Just kidding. There's a lot of misinformation about the Fix NICS Act out there. We've seen all kinds of crazy (and wrong) things, and some not-so-wrong things. And we have some opinions about it ourselves.
It's important to know that the Fix NICS Act does not:
- Create new gun prohibitions
- Expand the categories of prohibited persons
- Ruin your Christmas lights
But the basics of it is that it would make some changes to the Federal government's already-running NICS background check program.
The Fix NICS Act that the House passed will:
- Require the head of each Federal department or agency to submit a semiannual written certification to the Attorney General indicating whether they are in compliance with the record submission requirements
- Require more efficient reporting of prohibited persons
- Require the government to plan (!!!) to ensure maximum coordination and automated reporting or making available of records to the Attorney General, and the verification of the accuracy of those records
- Require the Attorney General to publish and report on, well, reporting compliance
- Establish some penalties for non-compliance
- Require the Attorney General to monitor and report on effects of the changes
- Speed up NICS denial appeals to 60 days or less (from about 2 years, right now)
- Require the Attorney General to spend time and money on a program that emphasizes the need for grantees to identify and upload all felony conviction records and domestic violence records
- Establishes other grants, because the spends
- Require the Federal government to provide technical assistance with the NICS system
- Appropriate $100,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022 to carry out, well, lots of NICS stuff
- Other NICS stuff
- And more NICS stuff
If you want to know exactly what the House passed, the best way is to read the exact Fix NICS Act language here (start on page 8).
It's not rocket science, and it doesn't take long to read. We promise.
So go ahead and read the bill, then dive back in here -- we'll wait.
Q: Stop talking. Please. For the love of electrons, get to the point -- are there problems with the Fix NICS Act, or not?!
A: Well, like the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act in H.R.38, we've identified a number of problems in the Fix NICS Act that should be, well, fixed. (See what we did there? We'll be here all week.)
You can read about the things we'd like to see changed here.
One big problem, that we see, is that it requires NICS denials to be reported to law enforcement. We think that mandatory law enforcement reporting is, ahem....not smart, or good, or wise, or anything else that's positive.
A February 2013 report published by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that nearly one-quarter of all NICS denials are appealed and over one third of all denials that are appealed are reversed, as the purchaser should never have been denied in the first place. So that's not good.
And we're not alone in offering suggested amendments to improve the legislation. CCRKBA founder Alan Gottlieb has also suggested some improvements to Fix NICS that Congress should adopt.
But the reality is that most of the stories you've heard about Fix NICS are probably just....made up. (In politics, they call it "spin".) Stephen Gutowski at the Washington Free Beacon wrote a useful article on some of the common misconceptions; we'd say to give that a read, too.
Q: Another group said something about this bill that I like/dislike/feel warm and fuzzy about/don't understand/hate/love/spiced chai latte. What are they talking about?
A: We don't think it would be very cool to speak for other organizations.
Q: Shouldn't we wait for a perfect bill?
A: Perfect bills don't exist. You will never see one. Like, ever.
But we completely understand why people want to see one. We want that, too.
And while H.R.38 has some things we want to see fixed, we don't think gun owners should go burning down the house yet.
Q: I don't see anyone else saying this stuff -- what gives?
A: We're just awesome like that. Ok, seriously...
Because we are headquartered in Sacramento, California—often considered the “belly of the beast” with respect to gun control policies [and other bad ideas]—we analyze things from the perspective of, "How does this work for the least protected people in the most hostile, anti-gun places?" and work out from there.
In other words, we want to know what something will do to help a law-abiding gun owner walking around in New York City, Trenton, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco....you get the idea.
By taking this approach, we try to make sure that we're looking out for the millions of law-abiding gun owners who reside in and visit states (and political subdivisions, like cities and counties) that are openly hostile to the fundamental, individual right to bear arms.
When we reviewed H.R.38, it wasn't difficult for us to see how good, peaceable people might inadvertently (but still unlawfully) carry a handgun under H.R.38, get arrested, and face a needle-threading prosecutor who wants to put people in jail.
So, there are things about it that people should know before they start walking around under the lights of the city by the Bay carrying a handgun for self-defense...
However -- it's a good and positive bill overall, and it will allow us to keep fighting and keep moving forward.
Gun owners would be better off with it than without it.
Q: I've been seeing some stupid #stopCCR hashtag. What's that about?
A: Apparently, gun control advocates hate CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) as much as they hate fundamental, individual rights. (Which is another reason you shouldn't trust or support them. Who hates CCR?!?)
Q: How can I help support carry reciprocity?
1) Call your Senators like voting in Chicago -- early and often -- and tell them to PASS concealed carry reciprocity legislation.
2) Send the members of the Senate a letter at PassHR38.com using FPC's free Take Action Grassroots tools.
3) Share this page to help get people informed about this important bill.
4) Tell every pro-gun or pro-freedom person you know to do the same. It's a sweet and easy list, and everyone loves lists.
Q: Who is Firearms Policy Coalition?
A: We're a real grassroots group made up of rockstar individuals across the United States, constitutional and civil rights activists, policy experts, campaigners, and even some lawyers stop by from time to time.
Q: How can I join FPC and help support your work?
A: Aw, thanks -- we love our peeps! You can Join FPC's Grassroots Army right here.
Q: My insurance rates went up.
A: 😳 😳 😳 . . . </us backs away slowly>
Q: I hate you guys.
A: 😫 That's not a question. <Sigh> Can't win 'em all... Send your letters to the complaint department.
Q: I love you guys.
A: 😁 That's not a question, either, but we appreciate it -- thanks!
Q: Where else can I find FPC on the Interwebz?
- FPC on Facebook (this is where we have cool live videos every morning)
- FPC on Twitter (this is where we argue with trolls)
- FPC on Instagram (this is where we see all the cool new gun toys)
Q: I read all of this and you still didn't answer the question I have.
A: Well, let's try and fix that. Send us a note here and we'll do our best to get your question answered ASAP.
Check back here for updates!
Last updated 12/8/17
© 2017 Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc.