It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (of Contradictory Gun Laws)

Service Station. Military Intelligence. Honest Politician. Coherent Gun Laws. Do any of these phrases rise above the level of oxymoron (with an emphasis on the last two syllables)? After spending God knows how many months training and studying, then several more months waiting for processing, I finally obtained that cherished little piece of plastic, a Texas Concealed Handgun License, AKA: a CHL. Good in 39 states, last I looked, it guaranteed me the right to carry concealed, at least most of the time. Or so I thought. Sadly, I learned yesterday, I was wrong…

Life is messy. Sometimes there are no clear-cut delineations between chapters of your existence. Sometimes there are (or seem to be): Birth is obviously one. So’s death. Marriage is another (and in some cases, easily confused with the former). But sometimes, you just kinda slide into things. I was living in Texas when I had to travel to Louisiana to look after my dad. It was supposed to be a couple of days visit, max. As I write this, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, and I’m only incrementally closer to getting back to livin’ large in the Lone Star State.

S’okay. My Texas CHL has me covered, right? I mean, if you can get a Utah CHL without living there, why can’t you live in Texas, get a CHL, move, and still have a valid permit? Well you can. But…exactly what good that does you will have a lot to do with where you hang your hat. Seems the fine folks in Baton Rouge took umbrage with the whole concept of someone getting a different state’s CHL, then moving here. I didn’t get the memo. They passed a law that made out-of-state CHLs valid only if you live out-of-state. In other words, because I’ve been living here (unofficially, mind you, but still), my CHL offers no protection for me, if I have to use my weapon, or if I’m stopped for a moving violation.

Yikes.

Even better, the Baton Rouge brain trust realized that this might be a little dicey, putting the law on something less than legal tera firma. So they crafted another bill to delay enforcement of the first one by a year. Which the governor never got around to signing. So, for the last, oh, I guess year or so, I’ve been walking around, thinking I was in full legal compliance with all Louisiana and Texas gun laws, only to find out yesterday that if I wanna conceal carry here, I have to get a Louisiana CHL. Pronto.

Color me “underwhelmed.”

What’s the bloody point of reciprocity, if I can’t go from state to state and be covered? I never planned to move here. My heart (and large portions of whatever net worth I have) are still back in Texas. And I’m gettin’ home as quick as I can. But for now, I have to deal with this whole “we’re gonna make you get an in-state permit” thing, which means I can’t legally conceal carry until I do.

Even worse, the Louisiana gun laws are a muddled mess. Can you carry in a restaurant? I consulted my attorney. He told me that there’s been no appellate cases to get a ruling on the enforcement of the law. And the law in question is “murky” on the issue. Apparently, the legal eagles wrote that you can’t carry in portion of a restaurant where they sell liquor. Um…huh?

Does that mean you can’t carry in the bar area, but you can in the restaurant? What if it’s one and the same? Does the fact that you can be served a drink at the dinner table make that a “liquor service area”? Inquiring minds wanna know.  What about the kitchen? I’m sure there are some restaurant owners who’d like to know they’re in compliance with the law if they carry – after all, if they were arrested for a gun violation, they could lose not only their CHL, but their liquor license.

There is a solution. But I don’t know if the nation is ready for it. Heller and McDonald point the way. The 2nd Amendment is clearly a protected, individual right, according to the Supremes. So the logical next step is to make some sense of all gun laws on the Federal level. Now I’m as much of a states-rights guy as you’re likely to find, but this issue is a national one. We need a consistent, national policy for carrying a gun. And we need a Federal law that insures those rights will be uniformly regulated across the nation.

This, of course, opens up one Texas-sized can 0′ worms. Citizens in states that allow for open carry would not be too thrilled if they suddenly lost those rights to appease the majority in other states. Conversely, Bloomberg and his buddies would pop a vein in their brains if the entire nation saw legalized concealed (or open) carry. I realize this is gonna be both messy and contentious. But it needs to happen. And soon.

If you travel, or God forbid have a job where you are transferred from location to location, currently you have to be a bloody paralegal to understand the ins and outs of gun laws in a given municipality. And it’s not just 50 states. Cities and counties get into the act, too. The NRA has the right idea with backing the reciprocity legislation they’ve proposed. But it doesn’t go far enough. I’m cool with the idea that my Texas permit would have to be recognized. But the law needs to cover every permit holder, regardless of where they live.

This could be as simple as making any permit a “nationally recognized” license like driver’s licenses. But it should prevent a state from forcing a citizen to re-qualify, just to get the local permit. And while we’re at it, we should consider having a baseline for what laws are valid, and which ones are unconstitutionally restrictive. The Supreme Court was maddeningly vague on this. I’d much prefer to see some guidelines at the Federal level, spelling out exactly how much latitude each state can take.  That way, a permit holder could count on the “lowest common denominator” wherever the travel or move, yet it would allow states to fine-tune their laws to suit themselves.

I’m a big believer in playing by the rules. But when the rules are poorly written and there’s little agreement on how they should be enforced, it makes me nervous. And makes me want to call my elected representative to “encourage” them to fix things. The right way this time. And there’s nothing “mad” about that.

comments

  1. avatar Bob H says:

    IE9, no pic, just a box with a teensy red X

  2. avatar Scott.A says:

    Google Chrome also has nothing so it’s not just IE.

    The law is a fickle and cruel mistress managed by Bureaucrats who are usually control freaks. I like the article and agree with it but just don’t see it happening for 5+ years. At least the law is making some headway.

  3. avatar Adam says:

    Curious, it may very by state (and I’m to lazy to look at the moment) but in my experience between living in California, Washington, and Oregon you have to get a valid in-state driver’s licence if you’ve been living in the state for 30+ days (that is if you want to legally drive in that state). The upshot being that the state considers you a permanent resident after 30 days.

    That’s the only way I know that states define one as being a resident of the state – the amount of time they’ve been living in the state, continuously. So the question then is how long do you have to be out of the state for the clock to be reset?

    I’m an Oregon resident but in under 30 min (depending on traffic) I can be in Washington. I hop to and fro plus or minus every two weeks. I’m certainly in OR more than WA but still – does my OR residency clock reset each time I’m hop the river?

    You don’t say how long you’ve been in LA (Louisiana) but it sounds like longer than 30 days. I’d still check the LA definition of a permanent resident. If LA says a permanent resident is someone who’s lived within the border for 30 days or more and you’ve been less then I would not think that you’d have anything to worry about. Also, if you going back and forth between TX and LA then you haven’t been living in LA continuously then I also would no think that you’d have an issue.

    In any case – if your mailing address is in TX and you have a valid TX licence then who’s to know how long you’ve been in one place vs. the other. Sure they could find out, but are they going to? I suppose it depends.

    1. avatar Brad Kozak says:

      I still co-own a home in Texas (at least as far as the bank and the state are concerned), and I’ve made a point to be residing in Texas for at least two days per month, each month. So I think I’m okay, legally-speaking. But the hodge-podge of laws drives me nuts.

  4. avatar virtualjohn says:

    Just as we need no “permit” or “license” or pay a “fee” to exercise our religion or speak or assemble or petition the government; I see no reason for the byzantine set of gun laws we have today. They are ALL unconstitutional and unnecessary. We are either free people living with God given rights are we are not free. Anything almost done is undone. Anything almost complete is incomplete. I would apply that word “almost” more accurately today to enslaved. For we are more “almost” enslaved than free.

  5. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    The guys at the range think it’s funny that I’m getting a permit from every state that will issue me one, but at least I’ll be covered whenever I visit any of these states. When Wisconsin begins accepting apps. on Nov. 1, I should be covered in their state by several of my permits but they haven’t released the final list of which states will be covered. I will then only be banned from the nine COMMIE states that I would never visit anyway, but I’m not going to give up trying to get a permit to carry in COMMIELAND.

  6. avatar BLAMMO says:

    Well boo dee hoo hoo. Somebody call a wahhhhmbulance.

    In NYS, pistol licenses are issued by the county. In Suffolk County (on Long Island), it’s handled by the Police Commissioner ( a doddering old fool). Virtually all pistol licenses are “restricted”, otherwise referred to as a sportsman’s license. You may CC only to or from an approved sporting venue (i.e., range). Even though the license is issued by the State, but administrated by the County, that restriction applies throughout the State; even in upstate counties where unrestricted concealed carry is allowed. Don’t even ask about NYC.

    So, we don’t even have reciprocity within the State.

  7. avatar Braden Lynch says:

    I live as a serf in the COMMIELAND of Kalifornia and intend to soon start the process for a CCW/CHL. Just don’t tell my wife, who will freak out! I may not carry concealed right off, but I want the option to do so. Wish I could move to Arizona, where it is OK, just like the Founding Fathers intended.

    1. avatar Chuck says:

      If you are resident in Sacramento county in California, you are good to go. The only problem is the long wait for an appointment to submit the application at the downtown Sheriff’s office but you can even do that online.

  8. avatar Rebecca says:

    Article IV, Section I of the Constitution says, “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.” What that has generally been taken to mean is that what one state licenses you to do, every other state is supposed to reciprocate. That’s why your drivers license from Texas works in New York and vice versa, or your marriage license (LGBT currently DENIED *grumble*) or other state-issued licenses. Theoretically it should also apply to carry permits, in my not-so-humble opinion.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Not really, Rebecca. For example, I was licensed to practice law in my home state, but no other state was required to accept my license. Most didn’t, and the ones that did had reciprocity agreements with my home state. Licenses are not given full faith and credit in many, perhaps most, situations.

      1. avatar Bob H says:

        Quite true. Mrs. H is a lawyer who had to take the VA bar exam after 20 years as a practicing attorney who is admitted in DC and MD.

  9. avatar JohnH says:

    “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed…”

    We don’t need no steenkin’ permits

  10. avatar cmd says:

    First, I have been thinking about this for a while. I get the reciprocity argument but I am anti big federal gov’t. I want to be able to use my VA permit everywhere but I am loath to let the Feds get involved. I simply have no faith in their ability to do it correctly.
    Second, the 2A gives us our rights but says nothing about our responsibilities. Some of us have bashed Law Enforcement for their lack of trigger control and discipline. If permits are unconstituional, any law abiding and sane individual should be able to purchase and carry a open carry/concealed firearm for self defense. Right? Then I ask what are we going to do to ensure the person next to us, carrying a firearm, knows how to safely use that firearm?
    I am really asking here because I do not know how to reconcile these issues in my mind.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Nothing. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about the right to keep and bear arms safely. Leaving safety to the individual is the price of freedom. Give the statistically insignificant number of negligent discharges, I wouldn’t worry about civilian firearms safety, anyway. Those fried mozzarella sticks are a great danger.

      1. avatar cmd says:

        You may be right and I hope you are. After what I have seen in the last 20 years at Military and civilian ranges, there is a large chunk of society, including LEO’s, that are dangerous as opposed to effictive with firearms.

        1. avatar Dan Frain says:

          I once worked with a Lt. who was good on the unit as far as getting people to the right parts of the institution to make sure we were all safe and supplied with what we needed to do our jobs. The few times inmates hung paper, she backed us up and the complaints went nowhere.

          I respected her professionally and liked her personally, but lost a lot at our annual re-qualification day at the range. Honest to God, she missed more than she hit, and was the last one on the range. I wouldn’t testify in court, but I’d bet money she qualified more by Skilcraft than by skill.

  11. avatar revjen45 says:

    A “WELL REGULATED militia…..” would seem to imply that that some standard of training and competence is allowed. I too have seen people who had no idea of the rudiments of gun safety or competence. “NECESSARY TO THE SECURITY OF A FREE STATE….” would seem to obligate the states to make such training available to all, preferably in high school, and especially when receiving Federal funds.

  12. avatar Ivan Pistov says:

    As a relatively young guy in my late 20’s after having been shooting and around guns most of my life, the gun control mania suddenly broke into my conscience, with the 1968 gun law. Most of us had not even THOUGHT about the possibility of “gun control” in West Texas, even though it was illegal to carry a handgun in the state since 1878, many of us did it all the time. Suddenly it dawned on us that there are evil people out there who don’t want us to have guns, even though we regarded ourselves as AMERICANS, with all kinds of freedoms and choices. But they wanted this one gone. So this stupid patchwork of gun laws in our country, states and counties and cities needs to be GONE soone. Mike Bloomberg, GET OVER IT. You and your sucking buddies in NY and Chicago and Kolifornia and going to have to realize the citizens have to be trusted UNTIL THEY DO SOMETHING WRONG, and it’s that way anyway because the criminals don’t adhere to laws. So let’s get on with it, let’s either be FREE or NOT FREE, we can’t bet both. AMEN.

  13. avatar kajunkkrittter says:

    “What’s the bloody point of reciprocity, if I can’t go from state to state and be covered? I never planned to move here. My heart (and large portions of whatever net worth I have) are still back in Texas.”

    do you get mail here in louisiana? if you do you are living here did you get louisiana tags for you car? if not you are violating louisiana law one has 30 day or so to get new registration for ones car if you didnt again you are in violation if you come to louisiana to work but not live here you must get louisiana registration after 30 days or so or you are again in violation of louisiana law most of there are not hottly enforced so most get away with out doing it
    you can go from state to state and you are covered however from what you are saying you are not going state to state
    BTW louisiana and ohio just signed agreement to honor each others ccw permits this happened within the past week

  14. avatar Magnafan says:

    Fun is being an American gun owner residing in Canada–with carry rights in about 34 states. I can purchase a handgun in Canada-provided that the barrel length is over 4.1″. I cannot purchase a handgun in the U.S. If I touch my own handgun in NYS, I have committed a felony. I can legally carry in NC but not SC.
    To legally acquire and possess a handgun in Ontario, I must go through about one year of red tape and belong to a gun club.
    To take my firearm into my own country, I must get permission from the ATF.
    Of course, none of this has ever prevented or solved even a single crime.

  15. avatar Parallax3D says:

    Rahm Emanuel lived and worked in Washington D.C. for two years, but he was still considered a resident of Chicago. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander! If he can do that, then I declare that since you still own a home in Texas, you are still a legal resident of Texas.

    There, problem solved.

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