This is absolutely tragic and could have been prevented if Congress had only passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
Donna Marie Gracey is a 59-year-old Florida resident. Last week, she was driving in New Jersey when she saw flashing lights in her rear view mirror. Police officers pulled her over for having “tinted windows.” Even though her vehicle was legal in her home state of Florida, the police believed that her windows were more tinted than New Jersey law allows.
The police officer approached the window and asked Gracey for her license, registration, and proof of insurance. While she was fumbling for her license, the officer allegedly saw that she had a Florida license to carry a concealed weapon. The police used that as a reason to investigate further and ultimately discovered a loaded handgun in her purse. It was loaded with hollow point bullets. Now, if you’re going to carry a gun, you should make sure you are using hollow points. But in NJ, just possessing those bullets outside of a home without an excuse is a felony.
She was licensed to carry a firearm in Florida, meaning that she passed a written test, background check, and displayed competency with a pistol. However, New Jersey doesn’t honor Florida’s carry permit. In fact, in addition to rejecting practically all of its own states CCW applications, New Jersey is one of the few states that doesn’t honor ANY outside carry permits.
This woman has a constitutional right to bear arms. She was tested and approved to carry a concealed weapon in Florida. Not only that, but her permit is valid in 36 other states. Just not New Jersey.
We sent an email out on concealed carry the same day that this woman was arrested. We warned that every day of Congressional inaction means more Americans victimized by these types of draconian state gun laws. I have never been so upset at being so right…
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would have prevented this entirely. The bill is actually pretty simple. It says that if someone is licensed or permitted to carry a firearm for self defense in one state, then they must be allowed to do so in every state. This legislation would have required that New Jersey honor Florida’s permit. Then, Casey would have gotten off with nothing but a window tint ticket, instead of facing multiple felony charges.
But the bill goes one step forward. When Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) wrote the legislation, he wanted to protect Americans living in the 9 anti-gun states that refuse to issue residents carry permits. So, he tweaked the language to restore their 2nd Amendment rights as well!
Previous versions of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act required that Americans have a permit issued by their home state in order to carry nationwide. The current version, however, only requires a legal permit “issued by a state.” That means that if New Jersey or California refuses to issue a permit to one of their law abiding residents, he or she could get a non-resident permit from Florida and use that to carry in all 50 states.
The legislation passed the House of Representatives, but has not gotten any action on the Senate side of the Capitol. If the GOP establishment gets its way, it will die just like the other 300+ bills that have made it halfway through Congress since Trump took office. The main reason that the Republicans don’t want to pass it is that they think it violates states’ rights.
It is already well established that states cannot violate individuals’ civil rights. The 14th Amendment explicitly states that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The Supreme Court already ruled in 2008 in McDonald vs. Chicago that states and municipalities must honor and abide by the 2nd Amendment. Seeing that Justice Scalia’s Heller opinion defined “bear arms” as carrying firearms, then states must abide by the 2nd Amendment’s protected right to carry guns.
So what can we do about the fact that 26% of Americans live in states that refuse to issue or honor any concealed carry permits? Well, Section 5 of the 14th Amendment says that “Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
Congress is the body responsible for making sure that states obey the 2nd Amendment and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act does just that!
These aren’t hypotheticals anymore. Donna Gracey was arrested and faces multiple felonies because she exercised her 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Since New Jersey doesn’t think that right should exist, she now faces serious jail time and a loss of her rights.
But she isn’t alone. Every year, there are a couple of high profile stories like this where people have their lives ruined by unconstitutional state gun laws. These are people who are legally allowed to carry a firearm in most states but are arrested for accidentally bringing it into an anti-gun state.
And there is absolutely no excuse for this to happen anymore. We have legislation with bipartisan support that would put an end to these types of injustice. Yet, leadership in both the House and the Senate refuse to do everything in their power to put it onto Trump’s desk.
President Trump, who has multiple concealed carry permits, has promised to sign this bill. Since he has properties in multiple states, he knows how much of a pain it is to legally carry a firearm across state lines, especially in liberal states along the coasts. He is just waiting for Congress to find its backbone and put the bill on his desk.
Don’t let this legislation die. Don’t let the House and Senate say there is nothing they can do!