If it ever becomes law, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, approved Wednesday by the House of Representatives, could face constitutional challenges, The Trace reports. The bill would make a license to carry a concealed firearm issued by one state valid across the U.S., regardless of the vast differences that can exist between permitting standards. To grease its progress, the Republican House majority combined it with a pair of other gun bills, one of which is a version of a bipartisan effort to bolster the FBI’s gun background check system.
Reciprocity has generated opposition from gun violence prevention activists, blue-state politicians, and law enforcement officials. One surprising source of criticism is conservative legal scholars and pundits, many of whom believe the bill rests on a shaky constitutional foundation and will invite a court challenge should it pass into law. The bill faces “substantial constitutional objections,” law prrofessors Stephen Sachs, Randy Barnett, and William Baude wrote Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), who sponsored the bill. “This is a broad and unjustified assertion of federal power.” The proposal to make an individual gun owner’s concealed-carry permit valid across the U.S. is not grounded in the Second Amendment. While the NRA calls reciprocity “national right-to-carry,” courts have thus far not recognized such a right. The measure bases its constitutionality on the commerce clause, which grants Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce. “It is perverse that conservatives, who have for decades railed against an expansive commerce clause jurisprudence, would suddenly cite the commerce clause to advance gun rights,” Prof. Josh Blackman of South Texas College of Law, wrote in a blog post.