This started with a brief Twitter exchange between myself and AntiTango, about whether or not we want Congress involved in enforcing the 14th Amendment through creating a national reciprocity requirement, or whether we should get it through the courts.
I’ll start off by saying that we’re not getting carry in any of the remaining hostile states or localities, save maybe Illinois, without some kind of federal intervention, either through the Courts or through Congress. California, nor Maryland, nor New Jersey are going to pass right-to-carry legislation on their own; it will have to be forced on them through federal action, one way or another. I think it needs to be a combination of the courts and Congress. I don’t think one or the other will suffice.
It would be relatively easy for the courts to impose on, say, California, for instance, that they have to issue licenses in a manner that is not arbitrary or capricious, effectively rendering them shall-issue. I think it’s a tougher sell to suggest the courts impose a national scheme for license recognition. The former only requires striking down a portion of California’s licensing law, while the latter actually requires the courts to enact policy, which I think they would be reluctant to do. I think imposing universal licensing recognition is actually a pretty good use of Congress’ powers under the 14th Amendment.
There is some precedent that makes that use questionable, and shouldn’t be overlooked, but overall, I’d prefer to put the courts in a position where they’d have to thwart the will of Congress, rather than putting them in a position where we are asking them to formulate a national scheme through which licenses would be recognized. It would be far easier, I think, for the courts to uphold licensing, but require the states to issue to non-residents, as a means of satisfying the constitutional requirement. For a lot of reasons, I don’t think this is as ideal as just having forced recognition. The Courts could also prevent states from enforcing those requirements for non-residents, but that seems inconsistent, and I doubt they’d be willing to do that as well.
The argument can be made that Congressional Acts are easier to overturn than precedent, but I would note that our opponents have had zero luck, in the 42 states that have passed RTC so far, of reversing or limiting that policy, and it’s been two decades now. While it’s true that over the long term, it’s hard to predict, but precedent could also be overturned over the long term as well. I don’t think either route is a sure thing, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m not very fussy about the tool, as long as the job gets done.