It seems likely that Trump’s victory, coupled with the Republican majority in Congress, may soon bear fruit for many gun owners. Though the president-elect is more than a month away from taking office, reports are already circulating about legislation drafted by Representative Richard Hudson (R., N.C.) to require national reciprocity for concealed-carry permit holders — an idea Trump endorsed on the campaign trail. The bill would pave the way for concealed carriers licensed in one state to have their licenses recognized by other states that allow concealed carry. However, the Constitution may actually already require national reciprocity for the more basic right to keep a gun in the home — not because of the Second Amendment, but because of the constitutional right to travel.
More than 40 years ago, in Shapiro v. Thompson, the Supreme Court struck down requirements that new entrants to a state establish residency for at least a year before being allowed to obtain certain welfare benefits, citing the fundamental right to travel within the country. In other words, states may not condition the right to move from state to state on the temporary surrender of certain benefits.
As such, viewing the Court’s recognition of an individual right to keep and bear arms in the home in D.C. v. Heller, together with its recognition of a right to travel free of undue burdens, raises an interesting question: Can states condition the exercise of the right protected in Shapiro on the temporary surrender of the right protected in Heller? If the answer is no, citizens should no longer have to sacrifice the security of their households in order to take a job in another state. I am aware of no basis in the Constitution for the claim that a state such as New York, for example, can suspend the gun rights a citizen enjoyed in, say, Illinois — even temporarily — simply because he or she has chosen to work, or enjoy a vacation home, in the former.While it’s true that Scalia’s opinion in Heller leaves room for states to reasonably regulate the rights protected by the Second Amendment, the analysis is different when it comes to the technically unrelated right to travel. So the fact that a state’s regulations may not violate the Second Amendment doesn’t mean they don’t place an undue burden on the right to travel. It can certainly be claimed that the argument advanced here is distinguishable from those that were before the Court in Shapiro, insofar as states have a stronger interest in minimizing gun violence within their borders than they do in saving money on welfare. However, those concerns would have to be viewed in light of the fact that, unlike the entitlement to welfare at issue in Shapiro, here we would be talking about the effective suspension of a constitutional right.
— Rafael A. Mangual, a graduate of the DePaul University College of Law, works in New York City.