The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
From time to time I read about proposals for a national law requiring reciprocity of concealed carry permits between the states. The most recent example is the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, introduced by Senator John Cornyn, R-TX.
Sadly, I have some bad news about this proposal, and about a national CCW reciprocity law in general: It would be unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment.
Nothing in the US Constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate the issuing or honoring of concealed carry permits issued by the States. In fact, nothing in the Constitution addresses concealed carry permits at all. Therefore, Congress has no authority to order the States to honor permits from other States.
Now, let me say that I am in no way saying we should not be able to carry a concealed weapon. And, I am not saying that my Georgia Weapons Carry License should not be honored in other states. However, the method by which this is accomplished is the issue at hand, and the current proposal doesn’t pass muster.
As an intelligent American, you know this to be true, even if you wish it were not.
There are several camps out there who make arguments that we should support this unconstitutional law. Let’s take a look at one.
The Driver’s License Argument
“The law should force States to honor my carry permit, like it forces them to honor my driver’s license.”
This claim, unfortunately, is based on ignorance. The honoring of drivers’ licenses is the result of an agreement among the States called the Driver Licence Agreement. Does that sound familiar? It should, because that’s what currently regulates reciprocity of carry permits – agreements between the States.
Why not a law? Because nothing in the Constitution gives Congress authority over licensing drivers, and at one time, we actually paid attention to the Constitution.
Think about it: the Federal government already will retain highway funds from States, unless they institute laws it agrees with, and mandates, like the right speed limits, or the right drinking age. Federal control of drivers’ licenses would open us all to such abuse as we can only imagine.
And if you follow that line of reasoning, you can then cut off the next line of reasoning for federal carry permit reciprocity: “Why don’t we just pass a law (or amendment) giving the feds authority over carry permits?”
That, my friends, leads exactly where you think it leads.
Now, I know this is a big disappointment to a lot of people. Believe me, I wish we could have it, too, but I am not willing to give up my Constitutional rights for something I want, and you shouldn’t be, either.
As always, I welcome your reasoned discussion on this issue.
Coming tomorrow – the answer to CCW reciprocity.