Hawkins: Natural Rights Do Not End at State Borders

FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2015 file photo, a supporter of open carry gun laws, wears a pistol as he prepares for a rally in support of open carry gun laws at the Capitol, in Austin, Texas. Texas is still sorting out where firearms are allowed, and where they're …
AP/Eric Gay

A natural right that ends at state lines has theoretically moved from the arena of rights and into the category of privileges.

Consider the rights protected by the Second Amendment, which are broadly curtailed by state governments that require the acquisition of a permit in order to bear arms. These same governments arbitrarily decide which out-of-state permits they will honor and which they will not, essentially declaring which law-abiding, out-of-state guests can be armed for self-defense and which must spend their time defenseless, simply trusting in the altruism of the criminal class.

In California, this curtailment has been magnified by a “may issue” concealed carry permitting process which means law-abiding state residents cannot get a permit to bear arms unless they show “good cause.” In other words, they cannot bear arms simply because they have a right to do so. Rather, they can only bear arms if they convince the state government that they have an explicit reason for so doing. Complementing this stranglehold on concealed carry for residents is California’s outright refusal to recognize as valid any concealed carry permit from the other 49 states.

So, is the right to bear arms really a right or just a privilege?

Our Founding Fathers clearly thought it a right and one that was not to be infringed by the government. Thus, the last four words of the Second Amendment show no ambiguity, “Shall not be infringed.”

Yet the right is infringed, in the general sense of the word, if it can only be exercised when a state government says so.

McDonald v Chicago (2010) was supposed to fix this, as that decision explained that Second Amendment rights are incorporated via the Fourteenth Amendment protections, thus preventing either the federal government or a state government from infringing upon them. But McDonald’s central impact appears to have been in ending Chicago’s handgun ban rather than coercing states to honor the Second Amendment.

Enter national reciprocity, which seems to be the only solution that will deliver restoration of Second Amendment rights in states throughout the country.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced national reciprocity for concealed carry on January 3, 2017. Breitbart News reported that Hudson’s legislation passed the House on December 6, 2017. If passed by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, it will end the infringement of Second Amendment rights by making the concealed carry permit of one state valid in the other 49 states.

In other words, it will be McDonald v Chicago with teeth. And, as Rep. Hudson made clear, reciprocity will show that we are not listening when “liberal elites in New York and San Francisco” decry Americans’ fundamental right to bear arms for self-defense.

All eyes are now on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as law-abiding citizens await the restoration of their liberties.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.