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.
5 thoughts on “The Bad News About a National CCW Reciprocity Law”
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Simply declare that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental right, that denial of the right to carry a firearm for lawful self defense is denial of liberty, and that this law is passed under Congress’s 14th Amendment power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the liberties of our citizens.
Sean already hit the 14th amendment and says we should simply declare the right to keep and bear arms a fundamental right. It already is a fundamental right which the founding fathers simply recognized in the 2nd amendment. The bigger issue is that the right to keep and bear has been infringed by the states with a multitude of laws which have been allowed to confuse the issue when Federal preemption should have struck them down at inception.
Right On Sean!
Both you gentlemen have salient points, which I will be copying (stealing, with attribution) for my blog.
Read Article IV Section 1 of the Constitution. The authority for Congress to require reciprocity for licensure, driver’s licenses or otherwise derives therefrom. All Americans would do well to read (or reread) this document.
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