The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday allowing concealed carry gun permits to be valid in any state that issues permits.
There are 10 states that do not recognize out-of-state concealed carry permits. Most of those states have a higher level of requirements for the issue of permits. Permit holders in California, for example, must demonstrate a specific need for a concealed carry permit for local law enforcement officials.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act cleared the House with a 231-198 vote, including a vote in favor cast by Montana’s lone congressman, Rep. Greg Gianforte, who is also one of the bill’s 213 co-sponsors.
Montana requires concealed carry permit holders to have some type of firearms training such as a hunter’s safety course, and to undergo a background check performed by county sheriff's offices. Permits from 43 states are recognized in Montana, including all 10 states that do not recognize any out-of-state permits. Vermont does not issue concealed carry permits.
According to the Montana Office of the Attorney General’s website, several states — Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia — do not require background checks for concealed carry permit applicants. Those permits are not recognized in Montana.
Montana’s concealed carry permits are not recognized by eight states in addition to the 10 that do not accept out-of-state concealed carry permits.
“I will always defend Montanans’ Second Amendment rights, and I am proud to have co-sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act," Gianforte said in a press statement. "The bill ensures that law-abiding Montanans keep their right to bear arms when they cross state lines.”
He encouraged Senate members to pass the bill. Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is one of 39 co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined 22 other attorneys general in a letter to Congressional leadership supporting the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act last week.
Fox’s office is charged with determining whether out-of-state permits adhere to Montana legal requirements for reciprocity. He endorsed the House bill that would allow the carrying of firearms in Montana by permit holders from the five states without reciprocity and the District of Columbia.
“Individuals who obtain concealed carry permits are, by and large, the most responsible gun owners in our communities,” said Fox in an emailed statement. “Self-defense is the primary reason to obtain a concealed carry permit, and is a central component of the Second Amendment.
"Nationwide reciprocity for concealed carry permits would provide our nation’s most responsible gun owners the assurance that their right to self-defense under the Second Amendment is recognized, regardless of which state they are in," he added.
In some areas of Montana the number of concealed carry permit applications has fallen in recent years. The number of permits issued in Yellowstone County peaked in 2016 at 2,053. As of November 2017, 1,323 permit applications had been processed, according to Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder.
Linder is confident in the background checks performed in Montana. He has “some concerns” with the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for Montana, simply because I don’t know what kind of background checks are done in other states,” he said.