Drawbacks of State Regulation and Reciprocity
Further complicating lapses in state gun policies is the general practice of reciprocity between the states, where one state recognizes permits issued from another. Reciprocity between the states undermines the tighter control policies in states like Massachusetts or New Jersey, because a person could easily travel to Georgia or Florida (whose laws are significantly more relaxed) and acquire a weapons permit. The Firearm Owners Protection Act allows for the safe passage of firearms across state lines, enabling individuals to acquire firearms in this way and effectively subverting state laws that further restrict how firearms enter and leave the state.
More broadly, the gun control policies of the majority of states are inadequate to the task of ensuring that gun owners are licensed, responsible individuals with good reason and intent to own and operate firearms. Shall-issue provisions not only encourage, but compel states to grant permits without regard to the standards of protection under the Second Amendment. A preponderance of states allow individuals to own firearms without a permit, carry them without a permit, and even carry loaded, high caliber, firearms in public, also without any type of permit or license. More than three quarters of state governments don't enforce federal firearm prohibitions, which include restrictions on rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and explosive weapons. Lastly, reciprocity between the states further enables the acquisiton of firearms and undermines states with legitmate regulations on firearms.
So the question remains, How do we improve gun control without infringing on the Second Amendment?
- No Federal Assault Weapons Ban unless BATFE is expanded.
Legally, states do not have to enforce federal regulations on firearms, so a federal assault weapons ban is empty unless BATFE is expanded enough to allow the government to enforce it on it's own. With only 19 states enforcing standing federal prohibitions and another 19 (between handguns and long guns) with assault weapons regulations, a federal ban is unlikely to gain traction with the states.
- Review of Shall-Issue Jurisdictions to include "good cause" from applicants
Here the federal government has some room to maneuver. Based on current case law, there's a strong case for amending shall-issue provisions considering they compel a state to neglect confirming the applicant's use of the firearm would meet the standard for protection under the Second Amendment.
- New Standards for State Permits, or a revised Federal Permit System
This may take a revision of the perceived relationship between the federal government and the states over gun policy, but is definitely an important piece of the solution. The laws in the majority of states don't promote responsible gun ownership or distribution, just gun ownership and distribution. Their policies allow for the proliferation of various types or firearms for non-traditional purposes. Should the federal government move to innovate on gun control, creating new standards with requisite registration, licensing, and more restrictions on open carry, would be a good place to start.