Wednesday, September 21, 2011

H.R. 822 - Where Do I Stand?

H.R. 822 was recently debated in a House subcommittee, and this begs the question of where do I stand on this issue?

While nobody who regularly reads Left Coast Conservative will be surprised to learn that I support this bill and hope for it to become law, I want to express why it is good law.

The entire issue of carrying weapons in public is ripe for the next level of regulation.  Regulation?  I can hear you all cry "How can my rights be regulated?". Many may not like it, but the fact is that the courts have long held that the exercise of rights are subject to time, place, and, manner restrictions.  Hence, carry licenses are not unconstitutional, not are the objective requirements to obtain one, as long as the issuance is fairly administered.

49 states have some form of carry licensing, or allow carry without a license.  With more and more citizens licensed to carry weapons, carry in states other than the state of residence becomes an issue.  Many states have reciprocity agreements with other states, allowing licensed citizens to carry in other states, subject to the laws of that state. Unfortunately, state laws concerning carry are not uniform, so there is a burden on the citizen to be aware of the differences in the laws between the state of residence, and state where they are carrying at any time.

H.R. 822 provides the first step to uniformity in national carry laws, requiring reciprocity between all states that issue licenses.  If adopted, and shown to be without problems, future enhancements might address uniform objective minimum requirements for carry licenses, or places where carry is prohibited, or procedures for businesses to prohibit carry on their premises.  I firmly believe, that uniformity of the law can only benefit the law abiding citizen, and for this reason I support this bill.

Citizens and politicians in carry-hostile states like California may react in horror at the thought of visitors carrying weapons on our streets.  I would suggest to these people that they are behind the times.  Carry is the front-line issue in the gun right community, and there are many smart people working through the court system to make carry in public a recognized fundamental right.  And there is a good chance that they will succeed.  If successful, then the California system of may-issue licensing will be abolished, forcing our state legislature to confront the issue.  Why not use the passage of H.R 822 to get in front of the issue, and provide California citizens the same privileges enjoyed by citizens of other states?

I am sure that such optimism about our dysfunctional legislature is completely misplaced as we wait for Governor Brown to either sign of veto AB 144, a bill that would ban public carry of unloaded firearms.

Nationwide carry is going to be a reality one day. We need to start a national debate about uniform laws dealing with carry in public, allowing all citizens to understand the legal requirements that they must abide.  The sooner we start, the better off all citizens will be.

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