Shock jock Howard Stern has expressed his support for national carry license reciprocity. Stern is infamous for his program’s crude sexism, an attitude that Donald Trump shared in an episode last year. This may be a willingness to compromise on Stern’s part, since he has a history of libertarian views, and accepting a requirement of a license to carry legally sounds like a big step toward the middle for someone who ran for the governorship of New York on the promise to resign after he reinstated the death penalty and opened up roadways by removing highway tolls and allowing construction only late at night.
The libertarian concern does have a valid argument in one respect. If you’ve ever moved from one state to another, you likely know that transferring a driver’s license is easy. That’s because the rules for driving and the standards for qualifying are identical in the essentials across the country. As a resident of Arkansas, a state with a shall-issue licensing policy that mandates a basic safety class and shooting test for anyone getting a license, I don’t want to normalize standards with California if that means moving toward the latter’s rules that are designed to deny the exercise of rights. Drivers’ licenses have been under an agreement among the states for a while now, an agreement that brought a lot more sharing of data and regularization of traffic rules, which raises red flags when we’re talking about guns.
The better parallel is marriage licenses. Anyone who gets married in one state is married, period. And as we saw with the Obergefell ruling, marriage licenses are protected for everyone — gay or straight — under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This is even more the case when we recall the full faith and credit clause of Article IV of the Constitution. And while the exercise of the right to marry has consequences, including harms, the requirement for getting married is being almost an adult.
Ideally, carry will be acknowledged as a right for anyone who is able to own firearms — in other words, for people not under state supervision as a felon or a person who has been adjudicated dangerously mentally ill. But things often have to move slowly in our system if they’re going to be accepted, and a move to require states to honor one more of each other’s official documents can be good for individual liberty.
Recall the scene in The Hunt for Red October in which Ramius and Borodin talk about the freedoms of the United States. Borodin, the first officer, expresses his surprise about how Americans can travel state to state without papers. Some things require papers, though. I like knowing that my doctor has been to medical school and has passed the relevant tests to prove competency. But in a free society, we accept the idea of movement as one of the basic rights. To many on the left of our politics, this includes crossing national borders. Within the country, we certainly have the right to travel around inside those borders. Given the composition of government — executive and legislative branches — for the next two years, we have the best chance for a good reciprocity law that would allow us to travel with the licenses that are now the law. We can demand that our elected representatives pass a good bill, one that simply honors any state’s license, while allowing no new restrictions. This is a good step as we move toward constitutional carry.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.