Thune column on ‘concealed carry’ misses the mark


U.S. Sen. John Thune’s column in the Jan. 25 edition of The Brookings Register advocating U.S. Congressional approval of his Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act warrants a response for many reasons.

I acknowledge that Article IV of the U.S. Constitution does impose an obligation on our states to recognize the the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of sister states but historically states have exercised state discretion in determining how far that obligation applies. 

If a state chooses not to recognize a public act of a sister state there is little that can be done to compel the state to do otherwise as the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shields states from being named a defendant in a federal court without the state’s consent. Now to Sen. Thune’s argument that all states should honor the concealed carry law of sister states just as states honor the driver’s licence of a sister state. 

He contends that to do so is to recognize “state's rights.” He must be talking about a state’s right to have all its acts accepted by sister states rather than a state’s right to decide on its own what will prevail as state law within its own boundary. 

We might also question his driver’s license example as South Dakota lawmakers are pondering a law to recognize a right of ”concealed carry” without a permit. I guess if our law makers decide to eliminate our driver’s license requirement ( in keeping with our deregulation philosophy), Sen. Thune would expect sister states to honor all unlicensed South Dakota drivers. 

Finally, Sen. Thune assets that the right to “concealed carry” is secured by the Second Amendment and is therefore a U.S. Constitutional right. 

That is an assertion that has no foundation in any ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court or lower federal court to my knowledge. Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court has not recognized our 2nd Amendment right as extending any farther than my right to own a hand gun in the privacy of my home for the purpose of personal protection. Certainly, this current conservative Supreme Court could expand the right to own and bear arms beyond that noted but, to date, it has not. 

My right to “concealed carry” stems from state statutory or state constitutional law. States are free to expand the scope of a U.S. Constitutional right as a part of the state’s reserved legislative prerogative. 

The question is whether a state’s statutory expansion of a U.S. Constitutional right should be unwillingly imposed upon all sister states. 

We must all ponder the ultimate consequence of requiring all states to recognize all state expansions of all rights.