Yes, Virginia, there are gun rights

Most of my readers will have seen by now the decision of the Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, to revoke the reciprocity agreements for concealed carry licenses with twenty-five states.  This will take effect on the 1st of February 2016.

This is a strange decision to make in a state whose motto is Sic semper tyrannis, thus ever to tyrants.  It’s also a shabby way to treat carry license holders whose safety record is better than law enforcement officers—and the record of both groups is tiny.  Given this fact, what the attorney general has done is more red herring than public safety measure—and I’ll try to make that the last joke on his name in this article.  This decision is an attack not only on the residents of other states, but also on the people of Virginia who carry legally, since “reciprocity” means an agreement between two parties, and it seems likely that many of those twenty-five states will choose to honor Virginia licenses no longer.

Perhaps it’s the proximity to Washington, D.C. that is turning the state in which so much of our revolutionary history got going against liberty.  Or perhaps it’s an illustration of how states should be cautious in allowing their gun laws to be made in New York City.  At the least, it’s a waste of time.

So what is to be done?  Virginia does have a provision for the recall of elected officials, though the list of reasons allowed for doing so is a tough standard.  Herring’s decision looks a lot like neglect of duty or misuse of office to me, but I suspect the courts wouldn’t see things the same way.  The next election for attorney general in the state won’t be until 2017.  The state legislature passed a bill in February of this year requiring the attorney general to defend Virginia’s ban on gay marriage, but the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obergefell case this summer made that moot.  I’ll let the lawyers inform us as to whether the decision could be overturned by legislative action.

The better answer, though, would be to pass national carry license reciprocity at the federal level.  That has been tried before—several times, in fact.  But either the bill doesn’t get enough support to overcome the cloture rules of the Senate or gets stopped along the way for some other reason.  However, with the aforementioned ruling on marriage rights, the argument now is stronger.  If one state or territory in this nation issues an official document, that ought to be good enough for all.

That, of course, would only be a temporary solution on the way to constitutional carry.  The Second Amendment clearly protects the right to bear arms, and it takes a good deal of sophistry to claim that such bearing was only intended to occur inside our own homes.  But until that time, we can follow the example of other groups supporting rights by pushing our elected representatives to pass national carry license reciprocity.  Tom Cotton, for example, ran for the Senate in my state of residence on the pledge to protect gun rights, a fact that I remind him of on a regular basis.  We all need to do the same.  Make it clear to the politicians who represent your state in the House or the Senate that the carry license of one state must be good everywhere.  Once that is enacted by law, the ability of one state’s attorney general to violate rights will be greatly diminished.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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