Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) recently introduced legislation to create a national standard for carrying concealed firearms. Under the bill, folks holding a permit to carry in their home state would be permitted to do so in every state.

Article IV of the Constitution says that “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” The Article gives Congress the power to pass laws regulating the effects of this clause.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause allows court decisions, taxation and extradition to remain valid between states without requiring federal or other legal involvement. Driver’s licenses issued in one state, for example, are valid in all states.

The requirements for obtaining a driver’s license vary considerably among states. In my home state of South Dakota, potential drivers can receive a license at the age of 14 years, while several other states make their teenagers wait until they are 17. While I wouldn’t recommend that a 14-year-old from South Dakota make a road trip to New Jersey anytime soon (or ever, really), it is legal for him or her to do so.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause should be upheld unless there is a massive public interest in a particular law, as in the case of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Passed by overwhelming margins in the U.S. House and Senate in 1996, DOMA gives states the right not to recognize same-sex marriages in other states and prevents the federal government from doing so at all. This situation is a clear example of Congress’ constitutional authority to intervene. No court has ruled DOMA unconstitutional.

The Constitution requires, then, that we properly protect citizens’ Second Amendment rights by allowing them to carry concealed weapons across state lines.

By 2006, 37 states had established “shall-issue” permit laws, which allow anyone seeking a permit to obtain firearms upon passing stated requirements, training or both. Eleven states have some other form of concealed carry, leaving only Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., without.

Thune and Nelson’s S.R. 388 is still necessary to ensure that law-abiding citizens can defend themselves no matter which state they’re in. The bill would give concealed-carry permits the same legal status as driver’s licenses, while restricting carry in some locations, such as government facilities, non-firearm sporting events and establishments with alcohol licenses.

Mountains of empirical evidence are crystal clear in showing that gun ownership and concealed-carry laws reduce crime across the board. One of my favorite examples, which I referenced in a 2005 column (“Happiness is a Legal Gun in the District,” The Hoya, Sept. 26, 2005, A3), is the hot burglary rate. “Hot” burglaries are those committed when the victims are at home.

The U.S. hot burglary rate is around 10 percent, but approaches 50 percent in Canada and relatively gun-free countries in Europe like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Estimates vary, but armed citizens prevent somewhere around 2.5 million crimes in the United States each year. Compare this with estimates of annual accidental gun deaths, which range between 1,000 and 1,500. Of course, any accidental death is a tragedy, but a much bigger tragedy would be the 2.5 million crimes allowed to happen if citizens couldn’t defend themselves with guns.

Any rationally formed opinion or public policy should consider costs and benefits as well as judge risk.

In his book “Freakonomics,” economist Steven D. Levitt notes that the risk of a child in the United States dying from an accidental gun injury is one in 1 million (per gun), while the risk of a child dying in a swimming pool accident is much higher, at one in 11,000 (per pool). “Molly is roughly 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool accident at Suzy’s house than in gunplay at Rick’s,” Levitt writes.

But which cause do you hear played up more by the media?

Some may point to supposedly scary risks of letting law-abiding citizens carry concealed firearms across state lines, but these pale in the face of the clear crime-fighting benefits of doing so. S.R. 388 and its companion bill H.R. 226 are good bills and should receive the “full faith and credit” of Congress.

Eric Rodawig is a senior in the College and a contributing editor for The Hoya. He can be reached at rodawigthehoya.com. Thoughtcrime appears every other Friday.

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