See NAGR’s release here.
I was previously wary of National Reciprocity supported solely on the herpes theory of the commerce clause, so I don’t outright scoff at people’s concerns with federal involvement in this area. But with the advent of Heller and McDonald rulings, Congress now has another, more constitutional avenue to legislature in this area, namely Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, which grants Congress the power to enforce its provisions that guarantee rights. This has been used to promote civil rights in many contexts in the post-Civil-War period. National Reciprocity is really a quite appropriate exercise of this power, given that the Heller decision assumed a right to carry a firearm, and the Court applied it to the states in McDonald. In fact, I’ll go farther and argue that Congressional action is likely the only way we’re going to restore the Second Amendment to the few remaining states which disrespect it. So let me take on some of NAGR’s arguments.
NAGR argues that the Second Amendment is the only license you should need. No one steeped in this debate disagrees that there should be no licensing requirement for exercising your Second Amendment rights. But Congressional action here doesn’t necessarily legitimize licensing. Previous Supreme Court rulings make Congressional action on unsettled issues like licensing problematic. Even with National Reciprocity, the other side will certainly argue City of Boerne v. Flores, which circumscribed Congressional power under the 14th Amendment. Congress attacking licensing might spark a turf war with the courts, such as happened in the City of Boerne case. We want to be cautious about reaching too far without more guidance from the Court.
NAGR argues that this bill is a trojan horse that will pave the way for federal control of licensing and carry. That is false. This bill gives no federal agency any regulatory control. It will be a law passed by Congress and enforced by the federal courts against the states. Could Congress pass such regulatory control in the future? Sure. But they can do that whether we pass National Reciprocity or not. Groups like NAGR act like anti-gun folks never thought of passing federal gun control before we gave them the idea. Nonsense!
NAGR uses Obama’s lawlessness as a reason not to do this. But this bill offers Obama no regulatory power to abuse. Could he just mandate something anyway? Sure, but again, he could do that right now. It will come down to what the federal courts let him get away with. That’s true with or without federal reciprocity.
NAGR calls this the “National CCW Registration Act,” despite the fact that there is no registration component to the bill. Nothing changes in regards to federal involvement in carry permitting, and nothing could change. All the law does is demand that states recognize each other’s licenses to carry. No more, no less.
NAGR is simply wrong on this issue, very badly wrong. Some Senators and Congressmen may use Dudley Brown’s opposition as cover to avoid taking a hard vote on this. I’ve made no secret that I don’t like Brown or his organization, but even I honestly don’t know what’s he’s even thinking here.
I don’t think we ought to stop with National Reciprocity either. Lately I’ve liked Glenn Reynolds idea of mandating that, for someone not prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm, they can’t be sentenced to more than a petty offense, with a fine not to exceed $500 dollars, for any firearm violation not involving the commission of another serious, violent crime. It would be a good next step, and hopefully compatible with City of Boerne. At the least, it represents the kind of remedy we can probably only get from Congressional action under the 14th Amendment.
I would ignore NAGR’s plea to oppose this law, and make sure your friends know it too. NAGR has built up quite a Facebook presence, so Dudley could do serious damage in trying to move this or any other federal civil rights bills forward if more sensible people don’t help educate.