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Firearms and Federalism

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Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011.  This bill would allow a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm in one state to do so in another state, notwithstanding the laws of the other state.

As an all-weather federalist, I have to disagree with some of my gun-toting friends here.*  Concealed carry is an issue that each state should decide for itself.
AP reports:

"The Second Amendment is a fundamental right to bear arms that should not be constrained by state boundary lines," said GOP Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
That is correct as far as it goes.  The individual right issue was settled in Heller, and the incorporation issue was settled in McDonald.  If a state law does violate the Second Amendment, then it should be struck down as unconstitutional.  However, Heller itself says at page 54, "the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues."  Unless these decisions are overruled, and Heller gives no indication they should be, then the state concealed carry laws are consistent with the Second Amendment.

If the Constitution allows a state to decide an issue, then a person traveling into a state has to abide by that state's choice.  He can't carry his state's choice with him.  If the freeway speed limit is 80 in Utah and 60 in Hawaii, a Utah resident has no valid gripe if he is ticketed doing 80 in Honolulu.  If you can't or won't abide by a state's constitutional choice, don't go there.

Does Congress even have the authority to enact this law?  Doubtful, but hopefully we won't find out.

* This is my personal opinion.  CJLF has taken no position on the issue.

2 Comments

Not being a lawyer, what about "full faith and credit"?

That requires states to give effect to court judgments, etc., of other states, but it does not require one state to give another state's substantive laws effect within its own territory.

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