Is anyone familiar with the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)? (This article
explains it. Pay particular attention to paragraph 4.) It's in place in all 50 states currently. The benefit is that the states pass the laws (instead of the federal government) but they are also uniform
in all 50 states. (Or pretty close to uniform).
So, why not do something similar with carry laws? The biggest issue tends to be the minimum re-quirements a state imposes on licensing. If a commission of people writing a recommended law like this were to establish a uniform minimum licensing standard, this would give the states a baseline from which they could begin discussions with one another. If the forty or so states that have some sort of licensing process agreed to accept any permit that met these minimum standards, then we could stop expending energy trying to get two “shall issue” states to recognize one another and instead turn all our attention on persuading those pernicious “may issue” states such as California or New York and the ever-obstinate Illinois to move in the direction of the rest of the country. All this without depending on—or being forced by—the federal government.
Of course, there would still be state-to-state issues such as whether or not a permit-holder is required to immediately inform a police officer of his status when pulled over for a routine traffic stop. And there would likely still be differences with whether a permit-holder can enter a drinking establishment, consume alcohol while carrying, etc. However, having a uniform basis by which we determine whether someone may or may not carry would be a great start. And if such a body were successful in establishing this baseline standard, perhaps they could also act as a uniform source for compiling and maintaining easily understood and clear state-by-state carry rules for those travelling out of their home state. Also, this would not in any way hinder states such as Alaska and Arizona who do not require a permit, but would make it easier (or at least no more difficult) for their residents’ to get licensed.
Having the federal government pass a law requiring each state to accept permits from every other states feels much more like compulsion, especially when we’re talking about a power that has traditionally been preserved for the states. As has been mentioned elsewhere, even if this law does not create a national licensing scheme, it sure seems to open the door for it. In United States v. Lopez, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, which declared that no one may carry a weapon within 1000 feet of a school. The argument was essentially that this sort of issue belonged to the states individually. However, Congress learned from this and altered the language of that law in a minor way by adding a provision which gave Congress the authority under their commerce clause power. (They simply added the words “that has moved in or that otherwise
affects interstate or foreign commerce.” 18 USC § 922.) The point in all of this is that Congress was able to find a loophole, if you will, in their commerce clause power, to allow them to pass a law which addressed a topic which was not rightly theirs to address. Nonetheless, the law as (barely) modified has been upheld by numerous courts.
I’m afraid the desire to be able to carry in a neighboring state is leading people to push for unwise choices on this issue. I would like to be able to carry in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, etc. However, these states do not recognize my permit. Be that as it may, I would prefer to wait until these states choose to come on board because they have been persuaded that that is the best course of action for their people than that we rely on Congress to do this for us. Once we start asking Congress to help us carry our weapons, we start giving them the ability to tell us when, where, how and whether.