News of Minnesota dropping reciprocity with Ohio increases calls for National Reciprocity legislation

News that officials in the State of Minnesota have decided to no longer accept concealed handgun licenses from Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas is beginning to trickle its way through the concealed carry community, but for those who haven't heard, here is what we know:

As of January 1, 2017, the Gopher State no longer considers persons carrying a concealed firearm in the state with a license issued by one of those states (AR, OH, OK and TX) to be doing so legally. 

Ohio law regarding Minnesota remains unchanged. Minnesotans who visit the Buckeye State will still be able to have their right to bear arms for self-defense recognized here.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website, DPS is mandated by law to review state laws governing the issuance of permits to carry weapons annually, and to publish an updated list on its website each year. With little to no fanfare, the state agency has moved these four states to the list of "States with Laws NOT Similar to Minnesota (not valid in Minnesota)."

According to various Internet sources, the agency sent out an email about the change on December 30. Exactly to whom the email was sent remains unclear.

According to Handgunlaw.us, the email stated, in part, as follows:

“After researching the laws of other states and communicating with their representatives, [the] four states are no longer eligible for reciprocity because their state laws include age and training exemptions that are “NOT similar” to Minnesota laws that mandate a minimum age of 21 and require specific Permit to Carry training for all applicants."

The email did not detail specifically which changes in Ohio law were determined to have effected this change. This has caused speculation that the change is a result of changes enacted in Senate Bill 199, which do not go into effect until sometime in late March. As it turns out, however, Gopher State officials are just now catching up to a change made to Ohio law back in early 2015.

According to Judy Strobel of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), this change resulted from the discovery of an Ohio law, enacted via HB 234, which allows active or former military to obtain an Ohio concealed handgun license without taking a concealed carry class IF they acquired service experience in handling handguns or other firearms, and IF the experience was equivalent to training given in an Ohio concealed handgun license course. [ORC 2923.125 (B)(3)(d)(i) & (ii)]

Strobel says Minnesota law mandates that active or retired armed service members must take a concealed carry class, regardless of any military training they may have received.

And thus it is that more than one half million Ohio concealed handgun licensees are now prohibited from exercising their right to bear arms for self defense in the state of Minnesota.

Last year, Virginia made news when the attorney general in that state decided to sever concealed carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states, effecting 6.3 million people who travel there, and another nearly half a million Virginians who, as a result, would lose reciprocity with six states. The decision was eventually rectified through legislation, but both that situation and these current problems with Minnesota highlight the need for legislation at the national level.

Now that Americans have elected Republicans to majorities in both the U.S House and Senate, and also elected a presidential candidate who campaigned on the issue, it is high time for passage of National Reciprocity legislation.

And the good news is, a bill has already been introduced.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the NSSF-supported Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38) on the first day of the 115th Congress.:

The proposed legislation, with 63 co-sponsors, would compel states to recognize concealed carry permits issued from other states that have concealed carry laws within their own borders - much in the same way a driver's license is recognized. The bill aims to eliminate the confusion of varying state-by-state laws and provide protection for Second Amendment rights for permit holders.

"Our Second Amendment right doesn't disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that," Hudson said. "The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is a common sense solution to a problem too many Americans face. It will provide law-abiding citizens the right to conceal carry and travel freely between states without worrying about conflicting state codes or onerous civil suits."

In addition to interstate recognition of concealed carry permits, the bill would also allow concealed carry in the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation, as well as provide greater legal protections in both civil and criminal cases for permit holders.

"This legislation provides an answer to the confusing patchwork of concealed carry permits, particularly with regard to states where laws make unwitting criminals out of legal permit holders for a simple mistake of a wrong traffic turn," said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. "It safeguards a state's right to determine their own laws while protecting the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. We thank Rep. Hudson for his leadership on behalf of America's hunters and recreational shooters."

In 2015, Rep. Hudson sponsored similar legislation with 216 co-sponsors.

More than one half a million Ohioans have been sent a (quiet) message that they are no longer welcome in the Gopher State. It's time to send anti-gun state bureaucrats a message that the right to bear arms for self-defense doesn't stop at a state border.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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