Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Federal concealed carry reciprocity: a right-to-keep-and-bear-arms Trojan horse

by Andy Barniskis

There are presently in congress several pending bills that would require all states to honor concealed carry permits issued in any state of the union. At first glance it would seem that passage of such legislation would be a major triumph, expanding our right to keep and bear arms. I am convinced that, to the contrary, the consequences of involving the federal government in carry permit matters will prove counter to both our gun rights and states rights.

Proponents of these bills maintain that the issue is simple; carry permits should be treated no differently from state drivers licenses or marriage licenses under the "full faith and credit" provision of Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The first sentence of that section reads, "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State." That sounds all good. But the second sentence reads, "And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof." To me, that sounds too much like "The federal government may butt in to dictate the proceedings of the states!"

What I fully expect will happen, if the federal government dictates that states must accept concealed carry permits from foreign states, is that anti-gun states will raise a cry that "reasonable minimum standards" should be applied to the issuance of carry permits. As a resident of Pennsylvania, that concerns me because my state is a "shall issue" state, where all I need do is apply, have a clean record, and pay $19 for a five-year permit, which must be issued to me in less than 45 days. Will states that don't allow their own citizens to carry firearms at all regard that as a reasonable minimum standard? I doubt it, and I expect that what will be dictated by congress in the future--if not immediately--will include fingerprinting, mug shots, mandatory training, and high administrative costs. And, once the principle of federally dictated standards is established, increasingly restrictive standards could become a backdoor way for carry permits to be de facto prohibited by federal regulation, without congressional action.

Those who argue that the application of full national faith and credit to drivers licenses is a good analogy for what they seek for carry permits, may be raising a better example than they realize. Here in Pennsylvania, over the years we have had photo drivers licenses, auto emissions inspections, and "motor voter" registration forced upon us by the federal government, all over the futile resistance of our legislature. In the case of emission inspections, not only were emission standards dictated, but also the levels of fines for noncompliance. The experience of many other states has been similar, so why would anyone not expect federal involvement in carry permits to result in federal micromanagement of issuing standards?

Firearms permit reciprocity in foreign states is something we should regard as desirable, but never something we should trade away fundamental rights to obtain, nor should we place fundamental rights at risk. While I respect those who desire it, what they seek benefits a minority of a minority--those who have a carry permit at home, and also wish to carry in a foreign state. But, if obtaining reciprocity results in increased restrictions in our home states, that affects every single citizen. We will be better off continuing to fight reciprocity issues at home, on a state-by-state basis, never forgetting that licensing a right converts that right to a privilege. Ultimately, we should not lose sight of our ideal, that armed self defense is a genuine constitutional right, and genuine rights should not be subject to the prior constraint of licensing.

Andy Barniskis is Legislative Chairman of the Bucks County Sportsmen's Coalition in Pennsylvania.

ALERT! Find out why you need a gun now.


Anonymous said...

Andy is 100% right if the federal government gets involved you can be sure they will really mess it up.
another Bucks County, Pa resident

Mark Yannone said...

Yes, indeed. Bear in mind that when the feds are speaking every day is Opposite Day.

Anonymous said...

Its exactly what happen 1999 in Switzerland. Before this date in the half of the cantons (states) carrying was allowed it was even not regulated at all. After the different Gunlaws have been federaly regulated it is today virtually impossible to get a carry permit. The reason was that the cantons with a restrictive law imposed their view on the federal regulations.

Alice Lillie said...

Andy is right. We must heed this warning.

This is another example of the Bush administration (which is fervently anti-gun as we true pro-gun people know) gravitating power to the federal government.

The states and local governments were supposed to have most of governmental power. But in recent decades, particularly under this present anti-freedom regime, power, and wealth has gravitated to the federal government, and within the federal government to the executive branch, and within the executive branch to the President. In other words, Bush wants to rule the world.

Like drivers' and car licenses as Andy said, and like school vouchers and many other examples, this reciprocity is a Trojan horse.

Is Bush really anti-gun? You bet your sweet life he is. Remember the first acceptance speech he have after being nominated the first time? I nearly lost my dinner. He said he would call for the enforcement of all federal gun laws presently on the books. To fool pro-gun people into voting for him (and the not-so-pro-gun NRA types apparently fell for it) he said that we did not need any more federal gun laws.

I think Michael Moore might agree: we had 20,000 federal gun laws on the books!!! We were, and are, awash in federal gun laws!!! And the jack-boot thugs in Bush's BATFE enforce them in the most cruel and capricious manner!!!!! If Bush were even a little bit pro-gun he would be calling for the abolishment of the BATFE daily!!!

After all the Second Amendment says what it means and means what it says!!!

Every last one of those 20,000 laws is unconstitutional!!!

You're right on, Andy!!!!!

See my own blog!! It is not about any particular issue (altho I am plainly pro-gun and proud) but discusses the demise of liberty in general.

Patriot's Wrath said...

Andy is right on this and there is another aspect that applies as well.

Given the nature of the Constitution and the powers that it grants to the Federal Government, or rather the powers that it limits to the US Government, this law would violate that limit.

In other words because it is so important to us that the Constitution be followed and as we struggle to restore the function of the government to a Constitutional Republic, we really could not support a law the violates the rights of the States in such a manner.

But yes I agree with Andy that it sounds good on the surface and is likely just a trap and even if it is NOT intended to be (which I doubt) it can just as easily become one later.

Anonymous said...

I was for the federal CCW bill until I read the above comments. I am now reconsidering my previous support and hope. I am increasingly becoming depressed and lost, we have moved from a free constitutional republic to a near tyrannical oligarchy. Everywhere I turn I see the loss of freedom and rights and no place outside of the internet is there any resistance to this.
Thank you for the above comments, maybe in a few years I’ll be living in PA with the rest of you.

Jacq' said...

Ah yes, "I'm from the gov'ment and here to help you."

Alice Lillie said...

Just one more thing: The Libertarian Party National Convention is this weekend in Portland at the Portland Hilton. We've had coverage on C-SPAN for past national conventions. Hopefully that will be true this time too, so tune in.

Anonymous said...

National CCW reciprocity is defacto gun owner/gun registration on a federal scale. It's a given that the Fed will nit pick it to death. See California and their assinine regulations; multiply times a thousand. We are much better off winning through one state at a time and keeping the fed's nose outside the tent!

Xrlq said...

This whole argument makes no sense to me whatsoever. How does a federal law requiring states to recognize each other's permits if certain criteria are met morph into a federal requirement that those criteria be met in your home state? The most likely outcome is that the federal criteria would be similar to those of the average shall-issue state, not the anti-gun states who account for an increasingly small minority.

But for argument's sake, let's consider the worst case scenario. Suppose today's federal standards are reasonable, but tomorrow, the anti-gunners get the upper hand, and we end up with federal standards modeled after those of the worst shall-issue state in the union. How does this affect Pennsylvania? Answer: it doesn't. Your state hasn't given up the right to keep its issuing standards exactly where they are now, and mine hasn't given up the right to recognize your state's permits voluntarily. All Pennsylvania would give up by not following the federal standard is something it doesn't have now, namely, the right to require all other states to honor its permits.

The NRA is no more short-sighted in supporting this bill than the Brady Center is in opposing it.

Mark Yannone said...

I start with the assumption that we meant what we said in the Second Amendment: our right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Note that it is a right, not a privilege that requires a permit. Therefore no state or federal government agency may convert that right to a privilege by legislation.

That doesn't mean they won't try. So, you decide whether you want to fight your state government or your federal government in asserting your right to carry a concealed weapon without their permission.

My Arizona legislators already know they are surrounded by citizens who will die for their rights, and they have limited means to impose their will on us.

The federal government is a bigger enemy--manageable, but much bigger and better armed.

They both need to live in fear.

JJY said...

I pro Second Amendment, pro constitution and anti-big government, especially federal government. But, I am not convinced that the Second Amendment addresses concealed carry. Its history and purpose would not suggest that it protects concealed carry. Even if it does, what we currently have is many states hostile to all guns, concealed and otherwise. I carry a concealed handgun (with a license) but often travel to a neighboring state that does not allow it. I would rather a federal statute that allows me to carry in the neighboring state than take a chance carrying in that state pinning my hopes on having a successful constitutional argument why I should not be prosecuted for braking their laws. This neighboring state does not believe the second Amendment means anything, much less includes a right to carry concealed. A federal statute won’t change my states stance on guns and concealed carry, but will force unfriendly states to accept out-of-state concealed carry licenses. Maybe some of those folks will change their minds if they have some good experiences with law-abiding out-of-state-ers carrying while in their state.

Anonymous said...

Andy has a good point. Another thought. Right now in Arizona the police "KNOW" who has a firearm/s because they tie in the CCW with driver's license. Their data base shows the location of your home. I'm thinking the CCW permit is a back door to gun confiscation. Just think if the FEDS have the access to all CCW permits from every state? That is the "Trojan horse" I for see.

Fred at

Anonymous said...

I think you all have some valid points, and are certainly heart-felt in your assertions. However, I think many of you are reading a little too much into the "big-brother" conspiracy side of this. We are years away, and hopefully stay that way with vigilance, from having to worry about people coming to our homes and ransacking simply because we have concealed carry permits. There's not enough people working in the whole federal government to monitor the #'s we're talking about here. Let alone a single agency such as the ATF. I think sometimes we like to make ourselves feel a little more interesting to the powers that be than we really are.
Anyway, I hope that we do get reciprocity, and I also hope that we don't run into the nightmares many of you are prophesying. Remember, dumb laws come because good people don't stand up with enough force to make sure that good laws come in their stead. Selah.

Chief RZ said...

After reading this and the comments I take a second thought on federal reciprocity. The states should negotiate between them. What about a national right to work law?

Larry said...

Question All?

Concerning reciproty, what if someone has an Alaska drivers liscense(Alaska doesn't require a CCW) and is driving across country.
Say he is a dangerous criminal and he is carrying a gun. Should the fact that Alaska is more lenient about it's gun laws endanger citizens of the other states. My point is that without a criminal background check (requiring the federal intervention) we have no idea if other states are complying with anything we might consider important in the issuance of a ccw in the first place, Or if the person is a fugitive from justice.