There is no valid “State’s Rights” argument against National Reciprocity

National reciprocity has been a hot topic for some time here in the Garden State.  This is primarily because it may be our best hope for productive change from the status quo.  The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 38, which is a strong version of national reciprocity.  The benefits of a bill like H.R. 38 are that it provides reciprocity for those who are unable to obtain a carry permit in their home state due to the lack of a qualifying need under their home state’s laws.  It also provides protection against, and holds law enforcement responsible for, unlawful arrests.

There are arguments being floated against national reciprocity.  The most aggravating of these, for me, is the state’s rights argument. Critics claim that national reciprocity violates the 10th Amendment protection against overreach by the federal government. Next week we will further explore the justifications that are available to support the passage of national reciprocity, but for now I’d like to dispel the notion that state’s rights is a valid argument against it.

By now you may have already watched the video at the head of this post featuring Evan Nappen at last year’s NJ SAFE Conference.  In it, he says there is no such thing as state’s rights.  That may feel like a bold claim, considering those who support the state’s rights argument often cite the 10th Amendment.  So, that is our first stop in determining whether the state’s rights argument has any validity.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. – 10th Amendment

The 10th amendment does not address the concept of rights, but does specifically refer to powers.  Powers retained by states or the people because they are not delegated to the United States by the Constitution.  In fact, if you review the Bill of Rights, the word right is used in Amendments I, II, IV, VI, VII & IX.  In each case the notion of a right was directed toward the people or, in one case, the accused.  Not to mention if we consider the text of the 9th Amendment individually, we must recognize that rights and powers are different from each other and that they are, in the case of rights, reserved specifically to the people.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. – 9th amendment

Considering all this we have to concur with Evan, there is no such thing as state’s rights.  But what about their powers?  Would the passage of national reciprocity interfere with the proper expression of a state’s powers?  We will be considering that in another piece published next week.  In the meantime, feel free to let us know what you think via Facebook or Twitter.