Attorney General Steve Bullock joined a bipartisan group of 21 other state attorneys general this week in urging the U.S. Senate to pass the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. The pending bill would allow millions of American concealed carry license holders to exercise their fundamental right to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense while traveling outside their home states.
The bill, which passed the U.S. House, last November by an overwhelming 272-154 vote, would allow individuals with a valid, state-issued concealed carry permit to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that issues such permits or which does not prohibit carrying concealed weapons. State laws outlining where concealed handguns may be carried would apply within each state.
“In our state, we recognize that all Montanans have a fundamental right to self-defense. That right doesn’t disappear just because a Montanan crosses our border into another state. It is time our nation as a whole recognizes and protects the fundamental right to self-defense,” Bullock said.
Currently, 49 states either issue concealed carry permits or otherwise authorize law-abiding citizens to carry guns outside their homes.
In a letter sent Wednesday, Bullock and attorneys general for 21 other states and the U.S. territory of Guam praised the sponsors the bill, U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-North Carolina, for “enhancing the right of self-defense.”
The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act fixes a flaw in American law, Bullock said: While driving is merely a privilege, all states recognize each other’s driver’s license. Gun ownership is a fundamental right enshrined in our Bill of Rights, yet there is nothing compelling states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states.
The bill is pending before the U.S. Senate.