Pitfalls and Objections to Avoid in Constitutional Carry Legislation

Duty to Declare

Some states have a requirement that if you are approached by a law enforcement officer, you are required to announce that you are armed.  This has, on occasion, caused minor interactions to escalate when the officer became unduly concerned for his or her safety.  It is unlikely that those persons stopped by the police, and who intend to do the officer harm, will state their intention to do so.  This requires the officer to be more prone to detrimental snap decisions in cases where they likely aren’t at risk and does nothing to mitigate situations where they are. 

 

Arbitrary Age Limits

Federal law prohibits the sale of a handgun to anyone under the age of 21, but does not prohibit them from owning nor possessing a handgun.  As such, if a resident is a legal adult and is not barred from “keeping” arms, they should also then not be barred from “bearing” those arms.

Constitutional Carry should apply to anyone of legal age and eligibility. 

 

Training Card Amendments

There may be attempts to amend the bill to require those who exercise Constitutional Carry to keep a copy of their training card or certificate on their person while they carry a handgun concealed. This would create nothing less than a de-facto permit system.

In 2011, there was an attempt to hijack Montana's Constitutional Carry permit in the Senate with such an amendment.

 

“Constitutional Carry Allows People to Carry a Gun without ANY training!”

Contrary to popular belief, the National Association for Gun Rights strongly advocates for training. One can never have enough training.  What we do not advocate is Government-mandated training.  It is burdensome, and often ineffective.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly stipulates that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.  With the command being as such, there are no exceptions allowed.  The 14th amendment extended these same restrictions on what may be prohibited to the states.  As such, the requirement to receive training before one can bear arms creates an unconstitutional infringement on the right, and are thusly illegal.

In addition, there are currently 13 states that issue Concealed Carry permits without any “hands-on” training. From a statistical and factual standpoint, those states are in no way less safe than the ones requiring extensive live-fire training.

 

Open Carry

As we define it, Constitutional Carry is not necessarily about deregulating open carry, though in some cases this effect may be a side benefit, especially in South Carolina.

Constitutional Carry targets the need for a permission slip or permit and a “Coat Tax” to carry concealed. Open Carry is already legal in some form in 45 states. A Constitutional Carry bill may or may not have the secondary effect of legalizing unlicensed open carry in regulated areas of these states or the 22 states where open carry is regulated by permit or illegal.

 

Applicability to Nonresidents

In a majority of Constitutional Carry states – one does not need to be a resident to take advantage of the right to carry.

But some states are trying to mandate resident-only carry, which makes no sense.

In Wyoming, about half way through the process of drafting and legislating Constitutional Carry, it was discovered that the statutes modified only apply to Wyoming residents.

North Dakota specifically drafted their bill to only apply to North Dakota residents.

True Constitutional Carry legislation should apply to all law-abiding Americans, regardless of which state an individual resides. 

 

“You’ll ruin the permit system!”

Constitutional Carry legislation is not designed to impact the permit issuing process. Permits are necessary for reciprocity reasons…at least for now. Residents of Arizona, Wyoming, and Alaska can still apply for their states’ permit to use them to travel to other states that honor them.

Additionally, permits still come in handy if there is any other applicable local law not subject to a state preemption clause that would require a person to have one, such as exemptions from the federal Safe School Zones Act.

In some versions of Constitutional Carry, where applicable, the bills also call for prohibiting state and local governments from maintaining databases of permit applicants and permits issued.

 

“Our state will turn into the Wild West!”

A common objection to Constitutional Carry is that it would make our streets like “the Wild West.” Many anti-gunners, therefore, equate Constitutional Carry with “Unrestricted Carry” or the abandonment of all gun laws. That is not the case. Constitutional Carry legislation typically targets only the laws that require a law-abiding citizen to carry a permit while carrying their concealed firearm.

Constitutional Carry does not empower criminals or those prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry, nor do criminals intent on committing crime pause to consider whether or not they have a “permit” before engaging in illegal behavior.

The idea that a person who is a law-abiding citizen would just randomly begin committing crimes because they can legally carry a gun is ludicrous and is not supported by evidence of any sort; it is a tactic of fear used by those who think it sounds scary.

Murder rates were lower per capita in legendary places like Dodge City in the mid-to-late 1800s than they are in present day New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C. So when a politician or someone else uses a phrase such as that, it should be obvious that they have no concept of the relevant facts.

In fact, armed citizens stood up to famous outlaws like Jesse James. When the James-Young gang attempted to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, they saw firsthand what armed citizens were capable of.1 Everyday citizens stepped up to the plate as they caught wind of the bank robbery in progress and began to open fire on the outlaws. Several members of the James-Younger gang were killed, while the rest of the gang scurried out of Northfield.2 You won’t find this story in your history book.

 

Constitutionality

The Second Amendment states:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people
to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Having law-abiding citizens beg the government to exercise their God-given right to self-defense is a direct assault on their right to “keep and bear arms.”

There is no sound constitutional argument for licensed firearm carry.

 

References

1 “The Northfield, Minnesota Robbery.” Civil War St. Louis 2004

2  “The Bank Raid.” Northfield Historical Society

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