There is a looming question in the minds of gun owners and politicians alike. “Will all 50 states enable full concealed carry laws?” For the time being, it looks like that would only happen with a select few kicking and screaming along the way (New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, California, and District of Columbia for starters). Each of these states is a “may issue” for concealed carry permits, but in practice the right is essentially denied to ordinary citizens. However, this trend may be changing due to an unforeseen ally.
The court system has actually turned out to be a rather unexpected ally in the fight to preserve Second Amendment rights in the past few years. For example, in February of 2014, the Ninth Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the “good cause” requirement for obtaining a concealed carry permit in the state.
As written in the decision from the Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, Sections 26150 and 26155 from San Diego County licensing parameters defined good cause as: “[A] set of circumstances that distinguish the applicant from the mainstream and causes him or her to be placed in harm’s way.” Good cause is “evaluated on an individual basis” and may arise in “situations related to personal protection as well as those related to individual businesses or occupations.” But—important here—concern for “one’s personal safety alone is not considered good cause.”
In short, unless you were receiving death threats, the right to bear arms outside the home was nonexistent in California. However, the Ninth Circuit overturned this requirement, as it destroyed the Second Amendment. The circuit court used the famous cases of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) to set up the framework for the decision. In the decision, the notion that bearing arms was simply defined within the home was rejected, as “bear” is an active verb with the historical understanding being that the firearms was to be carried outside of the home and on one’s person.
For the time being, California will be a shall-issue state for concealed carry permits. However, other states and districts with similar restrictions are not backing down. In July of 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia overturned the District’s overbearing restrictions on firearms carriage in public. In Palmer et al. v. District of Columbia (2014), Senior Judge Frederick Scullin wrote:
In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public in unconstitutional.
The Second Amendment was once again affirmed as being binding on the states and federal enclaves. But the District is not going down without a fight. The new permit issuing system is modeled after those in New York, Maryland, and New Jersey, which are all de facto non-issue to the average citizen. One can apply for a carry permit in the District, but the likelihood of obtaining one is slim to none knowing the way things work with firearms in the District.
Now the question comes to when will we all be allowed to carry our handguns in public, openly or concealed. What I call for is nationwide reciprocity between the states, recognizing the permits of other states as enabling the average citizen to legally carry a handgun in public for lawful purposes of self-defense.
Note the way that I worded that. I did not call for “national reciprocity;” that would mean getting the feds involved. That is something that we do NOT want. Due to its nature, the federal government is already anti-gun (except for its own of course), which is why the Second Amendment was ratified in the first place in 1791. No, we do not need more federal involvement than we already have.
Nationalization means centralization. Centralization means registration. Registration means confiscation. Simple as that.
What is needed is a state driven initiative to establish reciprocity between all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This should happen for two reasons. First, the constitutional implications; and second, the practicality.
Many state-level infringements have been struck down by the court in recent years. But, in some places those infringements are as strong as ever. States like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland are holding on to their restrictions with a white-knuckle grip. Several lawsuits have been brought up against the restrictiveness of these states’ firearms laws, but to no avail, as the U.S. Circuit Court seems to agree with the state’s ideology every time rather than the people’s Constitution. Under no level of scrutiny can these restrictions be upheld anymore!
Both Court jurisprudence and historical context both point to the fact that the Second Amendment, in fact, does encompass the right to carry firearms outside of the home. Let’s take a look at the text of America’s favorite Amendment for further clarification.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Let’s take a look at the second clause of this Amendment, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” Here, we can define what this clause means relatively easily. First, the word “keep” would be most clearly defined as: the right to own firearms within one’s home for defense of life, liberty, and property.
Second, the word “bear” would be most clearly defined as: the right to have, on one’s person, a firearm for the purpose of lawful self-defense.
Keeping means owning, bearing means carrying; it’s about as simple as that.
Secondly, enacting nationwide reciprocity would be a great way to enable citizens to provide for their own self-protection. The denial of the right to self-defense, in this case restriction on public carry, is really a defiance of natural law, as nature in almost all of its forms provides for some sort of defense against its predators.
Nationwide reciprocity would ensure that every able bodied, law abiding citizen will have the ability to provide for their own self-defense. We already know that criminals don’t follow the law in the first place, so why are we preventing people who have no criminal intentions nor inclinations from defending themselves? It’s completely contradictory. The only ones able to defend themselves are the criminals.
I ask again, why are we denying law abiding people the ability to defend themselves lawfully? Self-defense is a basic right recognized since ancient times, such principles do not change merely because some gun-grabbing politicians are uncomfortable with us owning guns (as they speak behind the protection of their armed security).
What is needed is for states to start recognizing other states’ permits, which many already do. For instance, Utah has reciprocity with 39 other states. The Utah non-resident concealed handgun permit is one of the most popular in the country; not to mention that the permitting system has brought in the state loads of money (how does that sound politicians?).
Enabling all law abiding citizens the ability to carry a handgun in public for lawful self-defense is the only logical thing to do. The world is a dangerous place, and just because Michael Bloomberg and his billions of dollars want to ban guns for the average Joe Shmoe does not mean that we will be safer. In fact, quite the opposite is the truth. More guns in the hands of law abiding citizens provide the chilling effect that is needed to deter crime. It’s our constitutional right, our natural right, and our practical necessity.