What happened to “full faith and credit” when it comes to the 2nd Amendment?

posted at 2:31 pm on December 31, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

The unilateral decision by Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring to renege on reciprocal recognition with 25 other states on carry permits has both legislators and activists scrambling. Members of Virginia’s state legislature will introduce one or more bills to both restore the reciprocity agreements and curtail Herring’s authority to interfere in them, an effort that Governor Terry McAuliffe will undoubtedly oppose. The NRA, as Matt Vespa wrote yesterday, wants Congress to pass a “total recognition” statute that would force states to recognize permits issued by other states.

Both efforts are necessary in the short-term circumstances of the moment. In my column for The Fiscal Times, I wonder why they are needed at all, however. The US Constitution has a clause that should make all of the proposed legislative fixes unnecessary, one which many of those cheering Herring’s decision often cited when it came to another piece of federal legislation they disliked:

Herring has now placed responsible Virginia gun owners into these kinds of inadvertent traps by canceling reciprocity agreements with states in the region. That prompts a larger question: why are they needed in the first place? Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states, “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” The inclusion of that clause clearly intended to prevent these kind of legal traps for law-abiding citizens by forcing other states to recognize the licenses and permits of other states, and its placement in the original articles shows that this takes precedence over the 10th Amendment recognition of state sovereignty.

Ironically, this was also one of the arguments used to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by Bill Clinton. Congress in that case passed the law with the express purpose of voiding the Full Faith and Credit clause when it pertained to the definition of marriage, especially when it came to court judgments and state benefits. The Supreme Court used other constitutional arguments to strike down DOMA in its Windsor decision, and mooted the argument entirely when it demanded full national recognition of same-sex marriage in Obergefell. In earlier decisions such as Pacific Employers Insurance (1939) and Hyatt (2003 on tax rates), the court also ruled that states may have “some limitations” in recognizing other state’s laws – when those statutes utterly conflict with their own.

That, however, is not the case with carry permits. Virginia will continue to issue carry permits, just as these other states do. Herring claims that the processes used by other states do not meet the standards of Virginia, but that turns the Pacific Employers Insurance decision on its head. Each state that issues carry permits has settled on their own criteria for issuance, and those requirements remain in effect for the duration of the permit regardless of temporary travel. …

Furthermore, the ability to carry arms in self-defense is not an esoteric policy regarding insurance or tax rates. The Constitution guarantees the right to “keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court has upheld it as an individual right in Heller, and as a right to carry firearms outside of the home in McDonald. While the court also recognized the authority of states in both instances to set reasonable standards on the exercise of those rights, the constitutional priority of the right for law-abiding citizens to arm themselves requires those restrictions to be rational and to keep from making compliance so onerous that it becomes impossible to exercise those rights.

Herring’s actions are a deliberate attempt to do exactly that – make the exercise of rights affirmed in Heller and McDonald so potentially costly to law-abiding citizens that they simply give up.

The only way to get that precedent set, unfortunately, is to have someone face prison time on firearms charges. Chris Christie issued a full pardon to a Marine recruiter who inadvertently kept his unloaded pistol in his car when he drove from Massachusetts (where he had a permit) to New Jersey, where he was arrested after a routine traffic stop. It might take that kind of case to get the federal courts to apply the Full Faith and Credit clause to carry permits, unfortunately.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Comment pages: 1 2

Some people wouldn’t recognize a free country with rights given to them by God, if it smacked them in the pie hole. Products of liberal schools and legends in their own minds.

ultracon on December 31, 2015 at 11:59 PM

But the 2nd doesn’t say anything about bullets (or guns for that matter actually).

Tlaloc on December 31, 2015 at 5:10 PM

It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

Somehow, I don’t think the Justices of the Supreme Court, when they decided against Dredd Scott, were thinking that blackfolk would be carrying guns without bullets as they traipsed around the countryside. After all, a gun is totally useless without its bullets, and so either bullets or guns or both can be considered arms.

In fact, that’s exactly the point our various arms control acts take with respect to exporting arms to foreign nations:


unclesmrgol on January 1, 2016 at 2:13 AM

No worries, President Trump will fix the World.

JackM on January 1, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Hence the XIII amendment takes precedence over any actual or implied language acknowledging the legality of slavery.

xkaydet65 on December 31, 2015 at 3:31 PM

Only where it actually says so. The Amendment struck specific language. As the 21st struck the 18th entirely – because it specifically said so.
The only place where “precedent” matters is if there is ambiguity (or “emanations” or “penumbras” and other BS the left tosses out when they want to find a previously un-recognized ‘right’).

Next time you visit bring the biggest badassed looking gun you have and wear it on your hip.

jerryofva on December 31, 2015 at 3:42 PM

Or just uncover when you cross the border.

GWB on January 1, 2016 at 11:24 AM

Probably the same reasoning that says Voter Id is a poll tax and interfering with a constitutional right; but Federal Background Checks, hunting licenses , CHL permits and heavy taxes on firearms and ammunition (including your bows and arrows) are not impediments to the 2nd Amendment.

2nd Ammendment Mother on January 1, 2016 at 11:55 AM

I have wondered this for a long time. If one state has to recognize marriages from another state (even if the circumstances of the union do not fit the second state’s laws) why should not gun permits also be recognized?

Though I would also add that other areas of state authority (like being licensed as a doctor or a plumber) are not recognized across state lines. The country is not applying this Constitutional provision consistently.

bartbeast on January 1, 2016 at 12:55 PM

The republicans across the country should introduce bills that mirror bills that democrats put forth but make them for the first amendment. Basically use it as a tactic to make dems argue against their own bills.

Like in Seattle, the new gun tax. Write up a bill that taxes anyone who goes to church. Or use it against the 4th amendment. You must pay a tax to obtain a right to privacy. If you do not pay that tax you do not have the right to privacy.

It just shows how ridiculous and naziesque their laws are.

The Notorious G.O.P on December 31, 2015 at 2:48 PM


Three problems here:

1) Liberals do not believe in civil rights for white people.

2) There’s nothing a liberal won’t tax.

3) The Republicans are pussies.

JackM on January 1, 2016 at 1:11 PM

The Notorious G.O.P on December 31, 2015 at 2:48 PM


Three problems here:

1) Liberals do not believe in civil rights for white people.

2) There’s nothing a liberal won’t tax.

3) The Republicans are pussies.
JackM on January 1, 2016 at 1:11 PM

For #1 … you should have stopped at:

Liberals do not believe in civil rights

They don’t want any “commoners” to have civil rights, no matter what the ethnic background is.

listens2glenn on January 1, 2016 at 1:42 PM

You’re wrong on one point, Ed. The 10th Amendment, by its very nature as an AMENDMENT, supersedes the text of the Articles. Otherwise the text regarding slaves would still supersede the amendments that followed.

Beo on January 1, 2016 at 2:33 PM

I like the idea of rescinding reciprocity for drivers’ licences. You get a warning, for a first offense, for the first 60 days. After that, you’re driving without a licence; and it’s cuffs and a tow truck for you!

ReggieA on January 1, 2016 at 4:42 PM

There is a bill in Congress to require reciprocity between all states. This is an annual bill that fails. It will never get through the Senate without the nuclear option by the GOP. Of course Obama would veto it and no 2/3 vote would be possible to override his veto.
Very hard to get a carry permit in CA, so 75 people at the Christmas Party and no one to oppose the terrorists; possibly reducing the death and injury toll. This shows the government can’t protect us, but what we hear is that more gun control is needed to, I assume, make all Americans soft targets.
The media talked about a neighbor being afraid of being called a bigot if they reported the goings on at the future terrorists home. But if one did report such observations and their name got out, they may become a target with no CCW permit for self defense nor police protection. I know about this a bit since I have had 3 death threats and can’t get a permit in my “may” state because the threats have been judged insufficient to warrant a permit to carry nor carry out an investigation. I testified at my legislature’s hearing on a CCW law for nothing. It’s shame I’m not a politician where threats are actionable and I would be provided security. Nah, I’m just a regular citizen, whose life isn’t worth that of a public official.

amr on January 2, 2016 at 2:21 AM

There is a bill in Congress to require reciprocity between all states. This is an annual bill that fails. It will never get through the Senate without the nuclear option by the GOP. Of course Obama would veto it and no 2/3 vote would be possible to override his veto.

The fact that the US Constitution should trump all this and it doesn’t, proves that these days the Constitution is not the supreme law of the land.

It’s just a piece of paper when those charged and sworn to uphold it do not have the integrity to do their sworn duty.

s1im on January 2, 2016 at 9:36 PM

Comment pages: 1 2