We’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments about what we think will happen concerning guns now that Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the White House. First let me say that I would really like to see a national reciprocity law pass and become a law. It sure would help to clean up a lot of the inconsistencies across the U.S. regarding firearms and transporting them across the nation. Since all 50 states have different laws that you must follow as you navigate your way to your destination, it would be nice to have one basic law that would apply where ever you may be in the ole U.S. of A.
We currently have a federal law (Firearm Owner Protection Act aka FOPA). Under FOPA, a person is entitled to transport a firearm from any place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he or she may lawfully possess and carry it, if the firearm is unloaded and locked out of reach. In vehicles without a trunk, the unloaded firearm must be in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Ammunition that is either locked out of reach in the trunk or in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console is also covered.
The problem is you could still be subjected to arrest by some local and state governments, and they may only allow for an “affirmative defense” using the FOPA after said arrest, which means going to court to prove that you were innocent of illegally transporting a firearm. Guilty until proven incocent. Yes, I’m looking at you New York, New Jersey, D.C., Maryland, California… A national reciprocity law would be a good way to clean up a lot of the mess.
What is it going to take to get a bill passed and become law? Well, the 115th Congress will convene Jan 3rd, 2017. There will be 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independents in the Senate (for a total of 100 or 2 per state) and 241 Republicans, and 194 Democrats in the House of Representatives (Total of 435, apportioned by population using the US Census). So, a bill will have to be introduced, assigned a number, go through committee etc. which can sometimes take hundreds of steps and procedures before coming up for a vote. Once it is passed in one house the identical bill must be passed in the other, with multiple ways that it can die so to speak and never see the light of day. Then and only then can it be sent to the President for approval and become law.
There is not a large enough majority to force the anti-gun side to go along, and lots of ways they can obstruct the process by filibuster, amendments to the bill, killing it in committee, or other procedural processes. It will take some give and take from both sides of the gun debate if a national reciprocity bill has a chance at coming up for a vote and passing. I’m going to guess the Senators and Congressmen from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, and California will probably not be in favor of a bill, so getting them to go along will be paramount if a national reciprocity bill is to get off the ground. How do you get them to go along? I would guess that it would take ways that they can still prohibit the carry in their state, carve out places off limits to firearms, things like that, making a national reciprocity bill not exactly what most have in mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love a national reciprocity law. I’m just trying to be realistic as to what I think can be accomplish given the large divide on the gun issue here in the US. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and before we know it we will no longer have to fear arrest while traveling through some states while on vacation or going to see relatives for the holidays if we so choose to take a firearm with us for protection or recreation.
Written by: Jason Gibbens