GOP senators’ concealed carry reciprocity bill is a constitutional no-brainer

· January 11, 2019  
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cruz and cornyn talk at judiciary hearing
Erin Schaff | Getty Images

GOP Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn announced an effort to make it easier for concealed carry permit holders to carry guns across state lines on Thursday with the “Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.”

In short, the bill would allow those with concealed carry permits and privileges in their states of residence “to exercise those rights in any other state with concealed carry laws, while abiding by that state’s laws,” a press release explains.

“The rights protected in the Second Amendment are foundational to a free society and the preservation of individual liberty,” Sen. Cruz said in a press release. “I am proud to cosponsor this bill, which champions the rights of law-abiding gun owners and ensures those rights are protected.”

As it stands, there’s no uniform standard for gun owners, where states recognize other states’ carry privileges. Gun owners who travel a lot apply for multiple permits from different states. A particularly popular concealed carry permit is Utah’s, which enjoys reciprocity in over 30 states.

Then there is also the question of “constitutional carry,” in which a few states do not require a permit for citizens to carry concealed firearms. It’s difficult for a permit to be reciprocated when no physical permit exists.

“This bill focuses on two of our country’s most fundamental constitutional protections– the Second Amendment’s right of citizens to keep and bear arms and the Tenth Amendment’s right of states to make laws best-suited for their residents,” Sen. Cornyn said of the legislation.

The press release notes that the proposed legislation respects state sovereignty in that it does not establish national standards for concealed carry or provide for a national carry permit.

Additionally, the federal government got into the protection of traveling gun owners decades ago with the “safe passage” protections in the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA). This law shields gun owners traveling through other jurisidictions so long as the person can legally possess a firearm at both the beginning and endpoints of their journeys, the gun is locked away and unloaded, and the ammunition is stored separately.

Finally, there’s the matter of full faith and credit under the constitution.

The Constitution unequivocally states that states must give “full faith and credit” to “public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” It also outlines that “Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

This law does not apply to states that do not allow the concealed carry of firearms. It would merely be a “general law” governing how states that already recognize a certain legal privilege must recognize the same privilege issued by another state.

Cornyn has introduced similar legislation in the past three sessions of Congress. One previous version of it garnered the support of 13 Democratic senators in 2013.


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Author: Nate Madden

Nate Madden is CRTV’s congressional correspondent. Follow him @NateMaddenCRTV or send tips to [email protected].