National reciprocity was going to be opposed by progressives. We knew it from the start. There’s almost no scenario where they weren’t going to offer vehement opposition to the bill, no matter what. They don’t like guns, they don’t like armed citizens, and they don’t like the idea of people not needing to trust the government with their every need.
It’s just that simple.
However, in a recent op-ed, constitutional attorney Noah Feldman, who is apparently no fan of national reciprocity, makes some excellent points that the national reciprocity opposition would do well to remember.
It’s a terrible measure, to be sure, forcing states to allow people licensed to carry concealed weapons in one state to carry them anywhere else. But that doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional, and liberals should be careful what they wish for.
To insist the law is unconstitutional requires arguing that states have the ultimate right to legislate on guns. Yet if Congress were some day to prohibit concealed carry everywhere, or to impose gun control measures with teeth across the country, the same argument could be used to say Congress lacks the authority to do so.
So liberals should be careful about borrowing the tools of constitutional conservatism to oppose the bill on states-rights grounds. Better to leave it to principled conservatives to challenge the bill as overstepping Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.
An excellent point.
Granted, the odds of any Congress in the foreseeable future passing such a law is remote. If the early Obama administration couldn’t do it, it’s just not going to happen. However, the anti-gun zealots seem to believe it will, and this is a slippery slope they would do well to be aware of.
Because make no mistake, if they successfully defeat national reciprocity on these grounds, I will personally beat them over the head with the same argument on every single gun law they propose from now until my dying breath. I may even include something in my will just so I can do it again after I’m dead, just to prove the point.
The fact is, the anti-gun left doesn’t give a flying fig about state’s rights. They simply don’t like the idea of people being able to cross a state line with a concealed firearm.
However, Feldman didn’t stop there. He also attacked the arguments many on the left are making regarding the bill invoking the Interstate Commerce Clause.
In order to bring the law within the purview of Congress’ power, the bill says it applies to “a concealed handgun” that has “been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” That’s every gun, pretty much. This formulation is intended to satisfy the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
By ordinary standards, it does. In 1995, the court struck down the Gun-Free School Zones Act in the case of Lopez v. U.S. on the ground the law didn’t sufficiently connect the guns to interstate commerce. Congress responded by amending the law to apply to a gun that that has “moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce.” That’s widely considered to have been a sufficient constitutional fix. Constitutional lawyers call it the “jurisdictional hook” on which congressional authority can be hung.
The standard liberal view of congressional power would hold that the same hook that works for banning guns in schools should work to allow Congress to regulate the movement of concealed guns from state to state.
Now, I’m not a fan of using the Interstate Commerce Clause for most things. I think it’s the most overworked part of the Constitution and it is often twisted and warped in so many ways that it can mean almost anything these days.
However, I don’t really care what justification is used, all I need to do is read the Second Amendment and recognize that the bill is entirely in line with it. They may claim interstate commerce, but we all know the truth.
And as noted, liberals have fully embraced the use of the Interstate Commerce Clause to push through their nonsense. Gaining traction on this argument could actually hurt them in the long run. After all, as with state’s rights, there’s no way any of us would let them use the Interstate Commerce Clause again without hammering them over their hypocrisy.
Will progressives listen? Probably not.
But they should. Quite frankly, there’s no legitimate reason to oppose national reciprocity in the first place, and deep down inside, I think they know it.