The Second Amendment truly is the “black sheep” of the Bill of Rights.
Imagine traveling from your home to Massachusetts, and not being able to buy a newspaper or stay at a motel because you’re from out of state.
The ACLU would be up in…well, maybe not “arms”…but they would sure take issue with the violation of your First Amendment rights.
When it comes to the Second Amendment, though, your right to keep and bear arms is often checked at the state line. And it hardly raises an eyebrow among civil libertarians.
Criminals obviously don’t care if they cross state lines to commit a crime, but honest citizens are often required by law to leave behind their self-defense firearm when traveling.
Pro-gun champion Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) recently introduced a concealed carry recognition bill to address this situation. H.R. 2900 allows law-abiding citizens who can legally carry concealed in their home state to carry all across the country, as well.
Titled “The Secure Access to Firearms Enhancement (SAFE) Act,” this legislation recognizes that constitutional rights do not become null and void at the state line.
And, most importantly, Rep. Broun’s bill is “constitutional carry” friendly. The SAFE Act recognizes that while CCW permits are the “norm” in most states, constitutional carry is the ideal.
For more than twenty years, Gun Owners of America has pushed constitutional carry (also known as Vermont-style carry) at the state level. Such legislation recognizes the right to carry without having to first get the government’s permission.
After all, how much of a right is protected by the Second Amendment if citizens must first pass tests, fill out applications, take classes and, in many cases, be fingerprinted and photographed to obtain a license—in essence, to prove to the authorities that they’re not criminals before being allowed to carry?
Vermont had it right for over a century. Any person can carry a concealed firearm—whether they are a resident of the state or not—except for use in the commission of a crime. That’s it. No registration, no paperwork, no arbitrary denials by anti-gun bureaucrats.
And the result? Vermont consistently ranks among the safest states in the country.
And other states are finally starting to follow suit. Three states (Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming) have passed constitutional carry laws for their own citizens. Texas passed a modified version, allowing for a concealed firearm anywhere inside one’s vehicle, including motor homes. And since 1991, constitutional carry has been allowed in more than 99% of the state of Montana.
Even with these improvements, however, reciprocal agreements between states are written in such a way that an actual permit is still required in order to carry concealed from state to state.
And in many instances, there is NO way to legally carry concealed in another state.
Rep. Broun’s bill addresses this issue in a way that respects the Constitution and in a way that recognizes the unalienable right to defend one’s life—without needing a permit from the government.
Just as GOA works to eliminate government restrictions on carry at the state level, GOA has never supported a bill at the national level that stops short of recognizing constitutional carry.
After all, a bill that requires states to implement a permitting system risks setting back the efforts of the many states seeking to pass real concealed carry reform.
The SAFE Act also respects the Constitution and states’ powers in that it does NOT establish national standards for concealed carry, nor does it provide for a national carry permit or require a state like Vermont to move to a permit system (in order for its citizens to carry out-of-state).
In fact, the Broun bill will do nothing to change what the states already do in terms of allowing or denying their citizens their right to carry firearms. This bill simply allows citizens who are able to carry in their home state, to also carry in every other state that allows concealed carry.
Another important distinction is that Rep. Broun’s bill, unlike other legislation being debated in Congress, does not rely on an expansive, erroneous interpretation of the Commerce Clause. The SAFE Act instead recognizes the “full faith and credit” protection that is guaranteed in Article IV of the Constitution.
Constitutionally-protected rights, including the right to self-defense, do not disappear at the state line. Rep. Broun’s SAFE Act will simply allow lawful gun owners who have the right carry concealed firearms in their home state to also carry in other states.
Gun Owners of America has a prewritten letter supporters can use to contact their own Representative and urge him or her to cosponsor Rep. Broun’s SAFE Act.
John Velleco is the Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobbying organization with over 300,000 members nationwide.