Opinion

Gun-carry reciprocity act is long overdue

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Bob Barr
Former Congressman (R-GA)
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      Bob Barr

      Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He was known as a staunch advocate for limited government and individual liberty --- passions which continue to be the hallmark of his post-congressional work as a practicing lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, and as a widely-read and listened to public speaker and columnist. His reputation in support of individual privacy earned him the moniker “Mr. Privacy” from the late New York Times columnist William Safire. Bob has published three books, including one that recounts his leadership in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, “The Meaning of Is.” Bob also teaches a course on constitutional law and public policy at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and serves as Chairman of Liberty Guard, Inc. a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.

With the Second Amendment at long last recognized by the Supreme Court as protecting the individual right of all U.S. citizens to keep and bear arms, the House of Representatives has voted to protect gun owners from being deprived of this fundamental liberty simply because they choose to travel from one state to another.

On Wednesday, a strong, bipartisan majority in the House passed the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. The legislation, which now heads to the Senate, would allow a resident of a state that allows concealed carry to possess a firearm while visiting another state that may not necessarily be as protective of firearms rights.

The bill is based on the Constitution’s “full faith and credit clause,” which is also the basis of other laws that guarantee state-issued licenses — like drivers licenses — are recognized by states other than the ones issuing them.

Importantly for public policy purposes, however, and as noted recently on FoxNews.com by respected Second Amendment scholar John Lott, the legislation has limitations.

As Lott explained, “Of course, you also have to follow the rules in the state you visit, so for Illinois — the single state that still bans concealed handguns — an out-of-state license wouldn’t let you carry a concealed handgun there.” The legislation would not break new ground, as Lott points out, since 41 states already have “relatively liberal right-to-carry laws, letting people obtain permits once they pass a criminal background check, pay a fee, and in many states receive training.”

Many states have firearms-carry reciprocity laws already in place. My home state of Georgia, for example, has full firearm permit reciprocity with 24 other states. Unfortunately, a number of states traditionally hostile to the Second Amendment, including California and New York, deny similar protections.

Interestingly, many liberals opposing the federal proposal passed by the House are suddenly expressing concerns that the Reciprocity Act is contrary to the concept of “states’ rights,” as guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment — the one provision in the Bill of Rights most often dismissed as archaic and irrelevant by those same liberals.

Politico reports — not surprisingly — that gun-control advocates like Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) are calling on President Obama to veto the reciprocity bill, fearing it would require their states to “accept the weakest standards in the nation.” Despite the demagoguery of the anti-gun lobby and its congressional cheerleaders, however, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) points out that states licensing concealed carry “have 22% lower total violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates and 12% lower aggravated assault rates compared with the rest of the country.”

For liberals like Lautenberg, New York’s senior Senator Chuck Schumer and Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg — who believe it is the responsibility of the government to protect citizens rather than the citizens’ right and responsibility to protect themselves — such common-sense legislation as the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act is anything but noncontroversial.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.