By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
Unless a miracle happens, national reciprocity isn’t going to happen. Sorry, but it’s true. At the time of this writing, there is slightly more than two weeks left for the bill to pass the Senate and head to the president’s desk for signature into law, which is unlikely to happen.
The prospect was fun while it lasted, and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 came closer than any previous attempt. It passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 231 to 198, hardly an overwhelming majority but whatever gets it done. That was in December of 2017.
Since then, the bill has languished in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Apparently Mitch McConnell feels that there are more pressing issues. Granted, there probably are in the grand scheme of things but it’s undeniable that the current regulatory system is woefully inadequate regarding concealed carry.
The bylaws of our system of government mandate that any bill not voted on during a legislative session (which lasts for two years, since there are biennial elections for HOR and one-third of the Senate) must be reintroduced for a vote, effectively having to start back at square one. Concealed carry reciprocity is not likely to make it out of the House again, as the 116th Congress will have a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats.
The legislative session ends on Dec. 14, when Congress adjourns for the holidays. Unless a miracle happens, the law won’t be passed.
However, that’s potentially a good thing. The bill – HR 38 – has a fatal flaw, which I’ve covered before but will be going over again because it’s important.
At the federal level, a law must be authorized by the Constitution in some way, shape or form. Said authorization must also – and this is where HR 38 falls short – jibe with existing case law, or else it can be challenged (and defeated) in court.
In the case of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, the legal mechanism used is Article IV’s Full Faith and Credit clause, wherein states must recognize the legal documents of other states such as marriage licenses, birth certificates and so on. However, a number of SCOTUS decisions have found there are limitations on the law in the case of public policy, meaning that one state doesn’t have to substitute the laws of another state for its own.
Since concealed carry is not explicitly covered by the Second Amendment, it falls to the states to regulate and is therefore a matter of public policy. Ergo, the law as it is currently written would be extremely vulnerable to a legal challenge, especially if challenged in a court circuit that’s known to be unfriendly to Second Amendment rights.
Such as the Ninth Circuit of the appellate court.
That may be the reason why the Senate has neglected to pass the law, it may not. In any case, it looks like national concealed carry reciprocity won’t be passing into law any time soon.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.