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Concealed Guns In NYC Backed By 243 In U.S. House

Publication Date: 
September 11, 2011
Source: 
Bloomberg News
Author: 
John Crewdson

Professor John Donohue is quoted in the below Bloomberg article by John Crewdson on a new concealed guns bill which Donohue says would effectively prevent a state from controlling who has guns within the state.

I’ve never touched a handgun and I haven’t been to Florida in decades, yet this month Florida officials mailed me a permit to carry a concealed gun.

If Congress adopts a bill that the National Rifle Association is pushing, Florida’s licenses would apply to 49 states in all -- allowing their holders to carry hidden guns in places such as midtown Manhattan, where the New York Police Department rejects most such applications for “concealed- carry” permits.

...

The bill “effectively prevents a state from controlling who has guns within the state, which has always been a core police power function of state government,” said John Donohue, a professor at Stanford Law School, who said he thinks it would be held unconstitutional. “It is so ironic that it is the conservatives who are trying to push this encroachment, since they usually are very active in championing states’ rights.”

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States can already choose to adopt reciprocity agreements -- Florida has such pacts with 35 other states, although 4 of them require that the permit holder be a Florida resident. The federal bill would eliminate states’ discretion. As a result, even the most exacting jurisdictions would be required to honor permits from the laxest. Stanford University law professor Robert Weisberg called it a “race to the bottom.”

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While the Constitution’s commerce clause gives Congress authority to regulate commerce between the states, the reciprocity bill probably wouldn’t fall within that power, said Weisberg, the law professor who serves as faculty co- director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. Nor would it fall under Congress’ power to enforce such existing constitutional liberties as the right “to keep and bear arms,” he said.

That’s because the Constitution is silent about whether there’s a specific right to carry a concealed firearm outside the home, and the Supreme Court has not yet spoken on the issue, he said.

“This is a completely unsettled question,” Weisberg said. “We have a very long way to go. The rights that this bill purports to enforce are not clearly established rights at this point.”