The concealed carry debate is about to get interesting

Get ready for some fireworks in both the House and Senate, assuming the flames from the current tax debate die down any time soon. As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action reports this week, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act has moved out of the Judiciary Committee with a thumbs up and is heading for a full vote on the floor of the House.

In a huge win for Second Amendment supporters, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday held a mark-up of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, and favorably reported an amended version of the bill to the full House. Anti-gun Democrats on the Committee offered a lengthy list of amendments to weaken or gut the bill, all of which were defeated.

The last 30 years have seen a continual expansion of the right to carry concealed handguns for self-defense within the United States, even as the nationwide violent crime rate has plummeted during the same period.

The bill has a lot of support from Second Amendment advocates and has drawn plenty of interest all over the country. The Attorneys General of 24 states have signaled their backing of it. At the same time, Democrats from blue states are just as vigorously opposing it. That’s were we get to the cautionary portion of this tale. Even if it passes the House, does it stand a ghost of a chance in the Senate?

The Senate Minority Leader has already weighed in on the subject and let his members know what the party line is. Chuck Schumer was quoted in October, slamming the NRA and everyone else involved in the effort. (New York Post)

“How low can you go?’’ Schumer (D-NY) said of the National Rifle Assocation, referring to its support of the proposed “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,’’ which would override New York’s strict gun laws.

He noted that the National Rifle Association, “just days after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history … is engaging their allies in Congress to push through a dangerous national concealed-carry law.’’

Even if this bill somehow makes it onto President Trump’s desk (where it would be immediately signed) you already know that some coalition of blue state Governors and/or Attorneys General will immediately file a lawsuit to stop it from going into effect. And since it will almost certainly come out of the Ninth Circuit, they’ll probably get an injunction.

Will the law stand up under challenge? One strong argument in favor of the idea is based in Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution, commonly known as the “Full Faith and Credit Clause.” It describes the duties that the several states have to honor the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” Will Baud of the Volokh Conspiracy made a fairly strong argument along these lines back when the bill was first being drafted.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause empowers Congress to “prescribe * * * the Effect” of state acts, records, or judicial proceedings in other states. U.S. Const. art. IV, § 1. For instance, the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act requires certain state child support laws to be given their full effect in every other state. See 28 U.S.C. § 1738B(h). Similarly, the Parental Kidnaping Prevention Act requires every state to recognize certain child custody judgments from other states, and it forbids them from exercising their ordinary jurisdiction over such disputes. See 28 U.S.C. § 1738A.

Baud goes on to acknowledge the fact that Congress has only employed Full Faith and Credit on rare occasions, however, and they were all in reference to very specific types of court orders. The real question is how we apply that clause when it comes to licensing, and in fact, the licensing process seems to ignore it entirely in many instances. For example, having a license to practice medicine in Maine doesn’t mean you can just open up an office in Florida. Similarly, passing the bar in one state doesn’t mean you can practice law in another. But the converse is true when it comes to marriage licenses. You don’t have to get married again every time you move to another state.

Is a gun permit closer in nature to a medical license or a court order of child support? An argument can obviously be made for the former. But as I said above, we won’t have to worry about the challenge until the law makes it into the books. And with states like New York sure to vehemently oppose anything which would allow travelers to wander around Albany with a concealed weapon, they will be fighting this one tooth and claw.