It’s Time For National Firearms Reciprocity

Rep. Richard Hudson introduced H.R. 38, which grants Congressional consent and mandates all states to allow automatic reciprocity for concealed firearms carry. This solves an intractable problem as some states move to Constitutional carry while others maintain different licensing standards. Sen. John Cornyn has introduced the Senate version, S. 446.

I live in central Georgia. I currently can’t drive to my boyhood home of New Hampshire and carry a pistol while driving there. There’s just no way to get there. I can get all the way to Pennsylvania and then I’m stymied by New York and New Jersey.

I can drive all the way to Utah but I can’t get to the west coast. Until last year, I couldn’t even drive through South Carolina, despite having a valid Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL). To get said license, I had to get fingerprinted, fill out similar forms to the federal Form 4473, and pass a background check. Plus I had to pay the State for the privilege of them sending me an ID card.

I also have a Georgia driver’s license. It’s good in all 50 states. The standards for getting said driver’s license vary from state to state. In some states, the test is much more difficult than in others. I haven’t had a driving test since I was 17, in New Hampshire. But Georgia issued me a driver’s license without making me a take a new road test (I took a 10 question “duh!” traffic test 25 years ago).

You know where I’m going with this. Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution (the “Full Faith and Credit” clause) requires states to recognize each other’s public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings. This is most evident in areas like fugitives, where you can’t cross over from Georgia into Alabama as an escaped prisoner and ask Alabama for asylum.

There are no explicit federal laws requiring states to recognize each other’s driver’s licenses because no state has (so far) refused to do so. The 1958 “Beamer Resolution” gave blanket Congressional consent to all state cooperative agreements or compacts dealing with highway safety. The federal government has the power to do the same with firearms licensing.

Today, 13 states, in one form or another, use Constitutional carry–they rely on the Second Amendment for citizens’ rights to bear arms. No state needs to recognize reciprocity for the Second Amendment. Yet I can’t get to Vermont or New Hampshire to exercise this right if I’m driving through New York, where carrying my gun is illegal.

Some states follow the U.S. Constitution. Others don’t. The federal government has the Constitutional authority to mandate interstate cooperation on firearms. The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) allows interstate carry of concealed weapons by a “qualified law enforcement officer.” It does this without restricting private property rights, or the rights of property owners to restrict firearms on their premises.

If the federal government can regulate police officers right to carry in any state, they can regulate everyone’s right. Last I checked, there was only one class of citizen in the United States. “Law enforcement” is not a class of citizenship, it’s a job description. Training requirements vary state by state, just like they do for driver’s licenses. If LEOSA is Constitutional, then H.R. 38 and S. 446 are also Constitutional.

Of course, the easiest solution to the “who can carry a gun” mess is for all states to dispense with silly permitting requirements, that criminals don’t follow anyway because they are universally excluded from eligibility, and go with Constitutional carry. But until that happens, it would be nice to be able to drive from Georgia to any other state while exercising my right–identified by a state-issued GWCL–to carry a pistol.

Driving is merely a privilege. Self-defense is a right. It’s time for Congress to pass national firearms reciprocity.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

View all posts