With the high court’s latest ruling on same-sex marriages, some contend the decision could lead to increased gun rights, specifically national CCW reciprocity, by using the same argument.
Friday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and recognize those sanctioned by other states.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the landmark decision that arguably made same sex marriage a reality in the 13 remaining states that continued to ban the practice.
With similar logic applied, gun rights advocates argue that the nation’s patchwork of firearms laws governing the concealed carry of handguns are now circumspect under the same guidelines. In short, they reason if marriage equality is guaranteed from state to state, then so should concealed carry rights.
“To paraphrase what Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy said about same-sex marriage,” noted Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb in a statement Friday, “no right is more profound than the right of self-preservation, and under the Constitution, all citizens should be able to exercise the right of self-defense anywhere in the country. It disparages their ability to do so, and diminishes their personhood to deny the right to bear arms they have in their home states when they are visiting other states.”
While every state has a framework to issue concealed carry permits, they are under no obligation to recognize those issued by other states and territories. For example, Illinois and Hawaii only recognize permits issued by their respective jurisdictions. In contrast, Ohio recognizes licenses from any other state regardless of whether Ohio has entered into a reciprocity agreement.
This can lead to otherwise lawful gun owners facing jail time when traveling into states that do not recognize their conceal carry permit.
In 2014, a Florida man was detained while passing through Maryland after authorities, discovering he had a concealed carry permit from his home state not recognized under local law, subjected him to a search for his handgun. After a 55 minute roadside search in which no gun was found, he was allowed to proceed.
In a separate case, a Pennsylvania mother of two traveling with a valid Keystone State permit was stopped in New Jersey and, after telling police she had a gun in her car when asked, was brought up on felony charges of illegal possession of said firearm. Facing three years in prison, her case was dismissed following intense pressure from gun rights advocates and a pardon from Gov. Chris Christie.
The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1866 just after the Civil War, expanded the protection of personal civil rights to all Americans no matter which state they live in and is often cited in litigation based on perceived civil rights violations.
Gottlieb contends that its scope, backed up in its latest interpretation by the nation’s top court, should be a powerful nail in the coffin of non-recognition by one state of another state’s issued concealed carry permit.
“State drivers’ licenses are universally recognized,” Gottlieb said, “and with today’s high court ruling, same-sex marriage must now be recognized in all 50 states as well. It not only stands to reason, but common sense demands that the concealed carry licenses held by more than 11 million citizens across the country should now be valid in every state without question.”
Other groups agreed, arguing that the stakes could be even bigger than carry reciprocity.
“Did the Supreme Court rule today that all gun laws are unconstitutional?,” noted Open Carry Texas on their social media account. “If states can’t infringe upon ‘marriage equality’ then they also can’t infringe upon civil gun rights. That is the essence of their rulings over the past 48 hours. If we have a right to health care and marriage, we have a right to guns.”