In the ongoing debate around the National Reciprocity bills moving in Congress, many of the proponents for gun rights attempt to draw an analogy between concealed carry permit and drivers licenses. Is this valid?
It's unquestionably a valid analogy in terms of legal structure. Article IV, Section 1 of the constitution (the Full Faith and Credit Clause) requires that states recognize each other's judicial acts and, among other things, licenses. However Congress has full power to regulate this. Hence, a hunting license is not reciprocated, but a driver's license is.
It's of questionable analogy because it presumes a value, because there is a clear and obvious harm to having every state require its own license to drive. Opponents of reciprocity of concealed carry don't wish to concede that the same harm applies. They claim it disrupts state's abilities to control who has a concealed permit in their state, and question the value of cross-state concealed carry.
Obviously, this disagreement in analogy is really about which side people fall on the debate.
By valid, would the current versions of the bill make driving and carrying procedures equal?
In what way? The only way this bill makes driving and carrying procedures equal is that one state could issue a document that grants a nationwide privilege.
I suppose there are a couple of other analogs:
- You will have to obey the laws related to concealed carry in the state you are in, not just like the driving laws. This may cause issues if, e.g. concealed carry permit owners have restrictions (e.g. near schools) visitors are unaware of. All reciprocity means is that a state has to treat holders of other state's concealed carry permit the same as they treat their own.
- People may have privileges in a state that they would not qualify for if they were a citizen of that state (for instance, State A may allow driving at 16 or concealed carry at 18, and State B may not allow driving til 17 or concealed carry until 21. In that case, citizens of State A can still drive in State B, even if 16).
Is there a bare minimum for drivers licenses, either through regulations or back doored via requirements placed on funding, established by the federal government?
Yes. The RealID act has requirements in terms of biometric identification and gathering for such an ID to be considered acceptable for TSA (flying) and other uses. Other requirements probably exist or can be added by tying it to highway funding (which is highly related to the 21-year-old drinking age and the radically different licenses that under-21 drivers receive).
Could the same be said for carrying?
You probably mean, "Could the same be done for carrying". Probably. The Full Faith and Credit clause lets Congress decide what is required for a document to be reciprocated. An example is gay marriage, which at one point was considered a marriage in Mass. but not in other states. Other state's weren't required to recognize that marriage. Congress could similarly say a concealed carry permit that is reciprocal requires X, Y, Z. A state could issue other permits, but they would not be reciprocal.
It's also possible that Congress could attach limitations to funding to try to generate minimum standards. However, the S.C. has said that the funding has to be related to the restrictions (see also, their recent decision over funding to Sanctuary Cities and the inability to cut off funding). Hence, Congress could allocate, maybe funds for policing that are contingent on concealed carry permit requirements. Or that may be too far afield.