Government & Politics

Gun Grabbers Evoke Federalism to Block Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Sen. John Cornyn is re-introducing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

Feb. 17, 2015

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is re-introducing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to allow gun owners with concealed carry permits to bring their firearms to any other state with concealed carry laws. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have some version of concealed carry in place, but the laws and reciprocity vary significantly from one state to the next – a patchwork that has landed law-abiding citizens in trouble for years.

“The current patchwork of state and local laws is confusing for even the most conscientious and well-informed concealed carry permit holders,” explained Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “This confusion often leads to law-abiding gun owners running afoul of the law when they exercise their right to self-protection while traveling or temporarily living away from home.”

The most prominent recent example of this is the case of Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Pennsylvania threatened with 10 years in jail for inadvertently bringing a concealed gun into New Jersey. Fortunately, sanity prevailed in that instance. But this type of case will only become more common in the coming years now that every state has a concealed carry law and the legal purchase of firearms is on the rise.

Cornyn said his legislation seeks to eliminate these “gotcha moments,” but, naturally, the gun control crowd is warning of the apocalypse.

Michael Bloomberg’s gun-grabbing group, Everytown for Gun Safety, released a report on concealed carry reciprocity, claiming, “Some states do thorough criminal background checks on applicants, while other states have such ineffective permitting systems that they inadvertently issue permits to felons.” Everytown and other anti-Second Amendment groups argue this bill will negate strict gun control laws in favor of states with weaker laws in place.

It’s almost comical to see the Left fly the flag of federalism. Leftist dogma dictates all power belongs to the central government – health care, school lunches, same-sex marriage, etc. But this time they have found a convenient use for states' rights by arguing that it’s wrong for Washington to establish a uniform system for recognizing the gun laws of other states.

Leftist hypocrisy aside, Cornyn believes such a scenario is not possible under his proposed legislation. The bill upholds laws currently in place in individual states by providing that weapons conceal-carried by one state’s residents must be carried in the same manner as residents in the host state. The legislation also does not allow concealed carry in states that do not allow the practice for their own residents. This last point seems irrelevant considering all states currently have concealed-carry, but it does signal the bill is not designed to roll back or in any way change existing state laws.

The federal government will not be empowered to force a national minimum concealed-carry standard under this bill. It will merely protect state residents from being unduly harassed by other states with stricter concealed carry laws.

The bill likely passes constitutional muster on grounds that no state can violate the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights or the 14th Amendment. But there is a difference of opinion about which constitutional clause is the best vehicle. Some say the Commerce Clause offers the best argument because it is in the federal government’s interest to see that citizens can freely engage in interstate travel and commerce. If citizens fear undue punishment or harassment in certain states because of unreciprocated concealed-carry laws, then travel and commerce between states will be deterred.

The Commerce Clause is too often used to justify ever more regulatory power in the hands of the federal government, and thus many conservatives argue the Full Faith and Credit clause is more appropriate here.

According to the Constitution: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

Consider a driver’s license. Any state’s driver’s license allows its holder to drive in any other state, subject to the laws of the state in which he or she is driving. Concealed carry reciprocity already works in a similar manner and Cornyn’s bill wouldn’t change that.

The anti-Second Amendment crowd doesn’t want to see Cornyn’s concealed carry reciprocity bill pass because it will further confirm what they already fear – they are losing the gun control fight. A large majority of Americans embrace the right to possess firearms. And it is a right, not a privilege.

The leftist argument that Cornyn’s bill will ultimately lead to a loosening of concealed carry restrictions in certain states is not entirely off base. It may very well do that, since the loosening of gun laws in this country has been trending for at least 20 years with positive results. That trend will likely continue, no matter the fate of Cornyn’s bill.

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