Can a state deny residents of other states the right to carry concealed firearms within its borders?
According to one legal scholar, the answer is yes.
Arnold Loewy is the George Killam Professor of Law at Texas Tech School of Law, and he argued in an op-ed published over the weekend in Lubbock Online that Illinois has every right to prohibit residents from other states from carrying concealed.
“In recent years, perhaps in part due to judicial expansion of the Second Amendment, the number of horrific mass murders has risen exponentially,” he says. “Illinois attempted to do just that with the statute we are debating.”
The debate has been heating up in recent weeks in response to several gun rights cases in the petition docket at the U.S. Supreme Court. In Culp v. Raoul, petitioners are asking the court to decide whether Illinois has the right to deny permits to non-residents, and some observers thought the court might announce today their intention to grant this or another gun case. So far no decision has been reached, but the court is scheduled to conference again this Thursday to vote on which new cases to take.
Only residents of Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Virginia who already possess concealed carry licenses may apply for the same kind of license in Illinois. Residents of all other 45 states are prohibited from even attempting to secure a license.
The reason, Loewy explains, is that Illinois officials want to protect their ability to monitor for criminal history and mental illness. They have determined that only four states have licensing schemes sufficient to uphold their standards.
“It is true that a duly licensed resident of Oklahoma may not be able to obtain a concealed carry license even if he is totally sane and lacking any criminal record,” Loewy says. “And why is that? It is because such an individual may at some point commit a serious violent crime or become mentally incapacitated and Illinois would have no way of knowing that because apparently Oklahoma’s monitoring system does not meet Illinois’ standard.”
Loewy points out that Illinois allows residents of other states to carry a firearm in their car or in a home with the permission of a homeowner.
“It is reasonable to ensure the safety of the entire populace that a person from a state with less stringent registration laws than Illinois, not be permitted to carry a concealed weapon therein. Given the concessions made to non-residents of allowing guns to be kept in cars and private homes, I think the legislation is reasonable and should be sustained,” he concludes.
In contrast to Loewy, attorney Charles Moster argued in the same op-ed that Illinois’ scheme is unconstitutional. It restricts Second Amendment rights, Moster points out, and it introduces a troubling precedent for other restrictions.
“Such rationale opens a constitutional Pandora’s Box which would allow identical actions by other states,” he says. “In such situation, any restriction would be fair game. The resultant slippery slope is a fast track to the ultimate confiscation of guns, which historically paves the way to authoritarian control and the end of democracy.”
Moster also cited an amicus brief filed in Culp v. Raoul by eighteen states attorneys general.
“The right to concealed carry is denied, in a discriminatory and arbitrary manner, to the law-abiding and qualified persons in 45 states, who are prohibited from even applying for an Illinois concealed carry license (“CCL”) regardless of their qualifications,” the brife states. “Therefore, the Illinois prohibition on virtually all non-residents obtaining a concealed carry license for self-defense violates the Petitioner’s rights under the Second Amendment.”