It is simple to recognize a problem, but it’s not always easy to take on the challenge of resolving it. Art Javier did just that. After a nearly seven-year uphill battle to get his Nevada concealed carry permit recognized in Illinois, this Army veteran and USCCA Instructor found success.

Identifying the Problem

There’s nothing in the Constitution about licenses to drive cars, but there’s a full amendment that spells out, in plain English, that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That amendment doesn’t contain a whole bunch of words, but it does contain some very important ones.

But unlike driver’s licenses, concealed firearms licenses aren’t valid in every state. If you want to cross state lines while carrying, your permit must be recognized by the state you’re visiting (or the state that issued your permit must have a reciprocity agreement with the state in question). Recognition is simple: A state legislature decides to recognize the validity of certain states’ — or possibly all states’ — permitting processes. Reciprocity is more involved.

Reciprocity requires two state attorneys general to send letters of reciprocity to each other. Reciprocity means that State A agrees to recognize the validity of State B’s permits only if State B recognizes the validity of State A’s permits. It’s comparable to if you owned a swimming pool and your next-door neighbor had a tennis court and you agreed to allow your neighbor and his family to use your swimming pool in exchange for him allowing you and your family to use his tennis court. Some states, including Florida, Arizona, Utah and even Illinois, offer nonresidents the opportunity to apply for a permit or license that is not only valid in the issuing state but also typically allows the holder to enjoy the benefits of any reciprocity agreements the state has with other states.

Meeting Illinois Concealed Carry Requirements

Speaking of which, Illinois was the last state to allow private citizens to carry concealed firearms for self-defense. The Land of Lincoln doesn’t recognize any other states’ permits and offers zero reciprocity. If you’re visiting Illinois and want to have the same personal protection as you enjoy at home, the only way is to apply for an Illinois nonresident license to concealed carry. While that might sound simple, Illinois will currently only allow you to apply for the nonresident license if you live in a state it has determined to be “substantially similar” in terms of how that state reports criminal and mental health issues. Essentially, there are five boxes that need to be checked off. There are only five states that meet Illinois’ requirement: Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia. Thanks to the relentless efforts of Art Javier, Nevada was just added to that short list.

Finding a Solution

While driving across the U.S. for work, Art discovered that his various permits were not honored by Illinois. He also discovered that while he could become a concealed carry instructor in the state, he would need to attend the course as a student to apply for the Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL). He immediately called me and scheduled to attend one of my classes in July 2015. As a veteran, he could have opted out of the first eight hours of the 16-hour course, but as a qualified instructor, he wanted to attend my entire course because of his belief in the importance of continuing education.

Art was surprised to discover that Illinois did not honor his home state of Nevada’s process as being “substantially similar” even though he had already been accepted by the Illinois State Police as the first Illinois CCL instructor in Nevada. Most people would have just accepted that their states didn’t meet the criteria, but Art isn’t a man who is easily deterred. Despite repeated obstacles presented by the Illinois State Police, Art, a pre-law graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a lifelong student, firmly believed after studying Illinois’ statutes and regulations that Nevada’s process actually did meet the requirements for being “substantially similar” and therefore should be added to the list of states Illinois accepted for nonresident CCL applications.

That was the start of repeated phone calls and emails to the Illinois State Police, ISP Firearms Services Bureau, Nevada Attorney General’s Office, and the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association to get the Illinois State Police to accept Nevada residents for nonresident CCL applications. When I asked Art about why he was so adamant to make this happen, he said it was clear from the statutes and regulations that Illinois should accept Nevada since the states’ processes are substantially similar. He didn’t do it only for himself but rather for all Nevadans.

A Win for Everyone

Art showed all of us what we can accomplish if we are bold enough to pursue what is right. This is an especially important lesson in a political climate where guns are not popular in certain powerful circles and our rights are under constant attack. A big thank you to Art Javier for making this happen. He is truly leading the way.