Why Adopt a Constitutional Carry Law?
(Updated: April 23, 2021)
Over one-third of the states in our union have now adopted Constitutional Carry legislation.
Most of the concealed carry laws in the country require citizens to first get permits.
But in 20 states, citizens can carry a firearm without getting permission . . . without paying a fee . . . or without going through any kind of government-imposed waiting period. (1)
There are many reasons for a state to adopt a permitless carry law.
1. Carrying a firearm is a “right,” not a “privilege”
The Second Amendment guarantees that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
This means that law-abiding citizens should not need to beg the government for permission to carry a firearm. That would turn the “right” to bear arms into a mere “privilege.”
Likewise, people should not have to be photographed, fingerprinted, or registered before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights. Criminals certainly do not jump through these “hoops.”
The Second Amendment is no different than any of the other protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights. That is, honest citizens should not need a government issued permission slip; rather, they should be able to carry as a matter of right.
2. More Guns, Less Crime
Concealed carry in general has been very successful in the United States. The Crime Prevention Research Center reports that, while concealed carry permits tripled during the first seven years of Obama’s presidency, the murder rate dropped 16% during that same period.
This means there are millions of additional people carrying firearms outside of their homes, even as the murder rate has dropped. We are actually safer today.
Concealed carry holders are the safest segment of our society, as they commit crimes at a lower rate than police or the average member of the public. (See p. 15 here.)
This positive record carries over especially in Constitutional Carry states. They are some of the safest states in the country. Just look at Maine and Vermont, with their low crime rates.
In fact, Vermont has been a Constitutional Carry state since the beginning of our republic, and it is frequently ranked as the Safest State in the Union. (2)
This is not an aberration. West Virginia enacted permitless carry in 2016. A half year later, law enforcement says they have “not noticed an increase in gun violence since the law went into effect six months ago.”
Likewise, Alaska enacted Constitutional Carry in 2003; Arizona followed in 2010. Both states saw their murder rates decline by 30% in the first five years. (3)
No wonder that over 90% of police nationwide support the principle of concealed carry for law-abiding citizens. And law enforcement in states like Idaho and Maine have stated their public support for Constitutional Carry.
3. The issuance of permits can be abused by officials
a. Refusing to issue
* New York City: Officials in New York City routinely deny gun permits for ordinary citizens and store owners because the courts have ruled they have no greater need for protection than anyone else in the city. In fact, the authorities have even refused to issue permits when the courts have ordered them to do so. (4)
* Gary, Indiana: Then-Mayor Richard Hatcher let it be known in 1979 that he would not be approving any citizen’s concealed carry applications. He then said, if they wanted to challenge his authority, they were welcome to take him to court. It took citizens over 10 years (and thousands of dollars in legal fees) to get any relief. (5)
* San Jose, CA: Joseph McNamara, a former police chief and anti-gun spokesman, bragged in his 1984 book, Safe & Sane, that “in San Jose, I have made it considerably tougher for residents to get handgun permits.” (6)
b. Requiring fingerprints — Virginia applicants for concealed carry permits were forced to submit to FBI fingerprint background checks without any authorization requiring such checks. (7)
c. Revocation for politically incorrect speech — In Oregon, officials have been known to revoke concealed carry licenses because of their political views. In one case, a permit holder had his license revoked because he was the editor of a pro-life newspaper. (8)
d. Denial for frivolous reasons — Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek in Iowa can be seen on tape, proudly explaining how under the old carry law in the state, he used to make it difficult for citizens to get carry permits.
“In the past, if someone owed traffic fines even, I denied them,” said Pulkrabek. “I told them, ‘Go get their traffic fines [paid and] come back.’ I just felt compelled to do that.”
He also rattled off a series of other non-violent, driving-related offenses that he would use to permanently deny people their right to bear arms, as protected under the Second Amendment. Holding up one gentleman’s traffic record, he said: “Here’s a gentleman that [got a] traffic citation. I would have denied [him a permit].” (9)
e. Printing licensee holders’ names in newspapers — In several states, newspapers have frequently printed the names of concealed carry permit holders, which are almost always public information. (10)
4. Concealed carry permits register gun owners — and such licensing can lead to confiscation of firearms
a. Step One: Registration — In the mid-1960’s, officials in New York City began registering long guns. They promised they would never use such lists to take away firearms from honest citizens. But in 1991, the city banned (and soon began confiscating) many of those very guns. (11)
b. Step Two: Confiscation — In 1992, a New York city paper reported that, “Police raided the home of a Staten Island man who refused to comply with the city’s tough ban on assault weapons, and seized an arsenal of firearms…. Spot checks are planned [for other homes].” (12)
c. Foreign Countries — Gun registration has led to confiscation in several countries, including Greece, Ireland, Jamaica and Bermuda. (13)
And in an exhaustive study on this subject, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has researched and translated several gun control laws from foreign countries. Their publication, Lethal Laws: “Gun Control” is the Key to Genocide, documents how gun control (and confiscation) has preceded slaughter and genocide against millions of people in Turkey, the Soviet Union, Germany, China, Cambodia and other countries. (14)
(1) As of April, 2021, the 20 Constitutional Carry states for concealed carry were: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. Furthermore, there are roughly another dozen additional states that have Constitutional Carry for open carry.
(2) In this ranking, Vermont is the safest state, followed by Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire and Idaho. This means that the safest five states in the country are Constitutional Carry states. Four of them allow permitless concealed carry; the fifth (Virginia) allows for permitless open carry.
(3) Compare the Uniform Crime Reports (Table 5) for these years: Alaska (2003 versus 2008) and Arizona (2010 versus 2015).
(4) David Kopel, “Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control,” [Cato Institute] Policy Analysis 109 (July 11, 1988): 25-26.
(5) Supreme Court of Indiana, Kellogg v. City of Gary, 562 N.E.2d 685 (Ind. 1990).
(6) Joseph McNamara, Safe & Sane, (1984): 74.
(7) Peter Finn, “FBI Stops Checking Va. Gun Applicants,” The Washington Post, 12 July 1996.
(8) In a court hearing to have the license returned, the judge in the case admitted that the individual did not meet the criteria for a revocation (i.e., he had never engaged in acts of violence or made threats of violence) but agreed to uphold the revocation anyway. The justification the judge gave was that the abortion issue was “a volatile one” and people involved in it should not be allowed to carry guns. A friend of the “defendant” made a routine inquiry to the sheriff’s department to see if any abortion doctors or activists had their licenses revoked. By Oregon law this is public information. He was immediately visited by four FBI agents who demanded to know the reason for the request. Statement by Kevin Starrett to Gun Owners of America, August 21, 1995.
(9) The illegitimate concealed carry permit denials by Sheriff Pulkrabek — seen on tape here — were completely discretionary and were not required by statutory law. And this just demonstrates how unscrupulous officials can abuse background checks to deny otherwise law-abiding citizens. Would Sheriff Pulkrabek also deny these bad drivers the right to vote … or their right to free speech … or any of their other rights? Why is it that bad drivers are only ‘bad enough’ to lose their gun rights, but nothing else?
(10) North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia are just three examples where local newspapers have printed the names of concealed carry permit holders. The same was done to gun owners in New York in 2013.
(11) On August 16, 1991, New York City Mayor David Dinkins signed Local Law 78 which banned the possession and sale of certain rifles and shotguns.
(12) John Marzulli, “Weapons ban defied: S.I. man, arsenal seized,” Daily News, 5 September 1992.
(13) David Kopel, “Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control,” [Cato Institute] Policy Analysis 109 (July 11, 1988):25.
(14) Jay Simkin, Aaron Zelman and Alan M. Rice, Lethal Laws: “Gun Control” is the Key to Genocide, (Milwaukee: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, 1994).