Imagine you’re visiting Idaho or Arizona. A cop pulls you over and asks to see your driver’s license. Then, even though your license is current, he draws his sidearm, cuffs you, and hauls you off to the calaboose. Your crime? You were driving on a Nevada license; you neglected to get a new and separate driver’s license, in advance, for each state you’re planning to pass through.
Ridiculous? Of course it is. Article IV of the Constitution stipulates, “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state,” and Congress is empowered to make laws describing how “such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved.”
So if you’re married (or divorced) in Nevada, your status remains unchanged when you visit Arizona. The other 49 states also have to honor your license.
But in fact, the situation described above is precisely what confronts a law-abiding gun owner who wants to carry his weapon on an interstate trip. Some states honor the “concealed carry permits” of some other states, but not of others. Get out a map, take a few months and a few thousand dollars, send away for the varying requirement to obtain “permits” from seven or eight states — some of which you may have no intention of visiting — in order to have a fair chance of being legal wherever you travel (though you can forget New York, California, Washington or Chicago).
And what about a resident of Vermont?
Vermont is the only state which fully heeds the Second and 14th amendments, setting no requirement that any resident or visitor seek a state “license or permit” to carry a concealed handgun.
So what does a law-abiding Vermonter tell the New York or Ohio cop who asks to see his permit if he’s stopped while driving west to visit someone in Wyoming? How about, “Do I get to make one phone call from jail?”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted on an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., which would have allowed Americans to carry concealed firearms across state lines, provided they “have a valid permit or if, under their state of residence … are entitled to do so.”
Under Senate rules, 60 votes were required for enactment, and — as Republicans Richard Lugar of Indiana and George Voinovich of Ohio joined with Socialist Bernie Sanders and 36 police-state Democrats — the measure failed despite winning a 58-39 majority.
There was some game-playing going on here, of course. Most Democrats hoped the measure would be kept off the floor so they wouldn’t have to expose their anti-armed-citizen position to voters. But Senate Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, whose main hope of winning re-election is to scare off any viable contender, wanted the vote precisely so he could start to patch up his credentials with Nevada gun owners.
Some ask whether this shouldn’t have been left a matter of states’ rights. But the Bill of Rights states “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
And that proviso was further incorporated against state infringements in 1868 by the 14th Amendment.
If states have a right to infringe the rights of a law-abiding U.S. citizen from another state to bear arms, then they must have an equal “right” to bar the free practice of religion by someone hailing from across the state line, or his freedom of speech or of the press, or his right to be free of imprisonment without granting him a speedy public trial and informing him of the nature of the charges against him.
And the Senate wouldn’t allow any county sheriff to suspend those rights, would it?