Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pros And Cons Of The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which Sen. John Cornyn introduced to Congress last month, would allow concealed carry weapons permit holders to travel from one state to another without breaking the law.

Gun owners are supporting the bill because it would reduce the legal burden on gun owners and make our lives simpler. But it would also give the federal government more power to regulate firearms – something that should bother gun owners under any circumstances.

There are a lot of good things about national concealed carry reciprocity. As Cornyn says, it will “eliminate some of the ‘gotcha moments’ where people [with a CCW permit] inadvertently cross state lines with guns they are legally allowed to carry in their home state.” Under the new law, he says, permits would function “more or less like a driver’s license.”

The problem with national reciprocity is that it would give the federal government more authority over guns, which is why several conservatives ended up voting against it the last time it came up in 2011.

Rep. Justin Amash pointed out that national concealed carry reciprocity bills take their authority from the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government power to regulate interstate commerce and subvert states rights. In 2011, he wrote:

It is important to note that H R 822 is neither premised on, nor properly drafted to comport with, the Second Amendment, because the NRA and other proponents do not believe that the Second Amendment justifies this federal mandate. That is why they turned to the Commerce Clause.

But having a concealed carry permit and carrying a gun across a state line is not commerce. Therefore, H R 822 is not constitutional under the Commerce Clause. If it were, it also would be constitutional for Congress to pass other laws, premised on the Commerce Clause, regulating concealed carry permits—including laws that restrict gun rights.

Amash concluded that national concealed carry reciprocity would “hurt rights by conceding broad new authority to the federal government to override state sovereignty.”

Gun owners need to be aware of these issues when considering whether to support national concealed carry reciprocity. In the end, anything that opens the door to expanded federal gun control might not be worth the benefit.

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