For most people with carry permits, travel to other states presents a thorny legal issue. Each state has its own laws regarding the issue of permits, and while many of them have reciprocity agreements with selected other states, some of them do not. Navigating the legal thickets to legally carry across the state lines can be confusing, and potentially put otherwise law-abiding citizens at risk for felony prosecution. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) attempted to resolve that problem in the last session of Congress, but even his bipartisan coalition couldn’t succeed in getting a bill passed in the Democrat-controlled upper chamber. He’s relaunching the effort in the new GOP- controlled Senate, but opponents are using a traditional conservative argument in response:
The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would allow gun owners who have a concealed carry permit in their home state to bring their firearms in any other state with concealed-carry laws.
“This operates more or less like a driver’s license,” Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the second-ranking Republican in the upper chamber, told The Hill. “So, for example, if you have a driver’s license in Texas, you can drive in New York, in Utah and other places, subject to the laws of those states.”
Not so fast, say opponents. States have a right to make their own choices on the prerequisites and limitations of carry permits, arguing what is essentially a case for federalism rather than supremacy:
Gun control groups say the bill poses a significant danger for society at a time when lawmakers should be strengthening background checks to address recent shootings.
“Federally imposed concealed carry laws interfere with states’ fundamental right to determine who is too dangerous to carry hidden, loaded guns in public,” Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt told The Hill. …
Everytown argues that Cornyn’s bill would allow states with the “weakest gun laws to trump the reasonable judgments” of others, since people who qualify for concealed carry permits in some states would get to carry their guns into places with tougher requirements.
The switch to federalism is somewhat amusing for gun-control groups. After all, their own lobbying and legislative efforts have been concentrated on Congress and the White House for decades, although they have had some temporary successes in places like Colorado. Piers Morgan, one of the most vocal of the media activists for gun control, excoriated Barack Obama on Twitter for making a pistol pose in a mirror for BuzzFeed after failing to keep “a single one of his promises to Newtown families re guns.” Everytown spent $335,474 in the midterm cycle, all but $52,188 either for Democrats or against Republicans in Congressional and Senate races. I doubt they were spending that cash in protection of federalism.
Besides, the Constitution that set up a federalist system explicitly gives the federal government authority to regulate interstate commerce. Thanks to Wickard v Filburn, this has been grossly expanded to every area of commerce, up to and now including health insurance through ObamaCare. The temporary movement of people from state to state for business or pleasure, though, falls a lot more clearly into the original intent of the commerce clause. Cornyn’s bill would still allow those states to set reasonable time limits on such reciprocity, just as they do with driver’s licenses, to use Cornyn’s own example.
The basic point of providing consistent reciprocity is to keep law-abiding citizens from innocently running afoul of the law and preventing needless prosecutions for actions that present no threat to public safety. Why would anyone oppose that kind of solution?