From the Desk of
Dudley Brown

Your Right to Constitutional Carry

 

April 15, 2019

Constitutional Carry is the basic principle that if you are legally eligible to purchase a firearm, you should be able to carry that weapon, concealed, for self-defense without government “permission."

Constitutional Carry laws recognize the right of every law-abiding citizen to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, on their person, without having to receive government permission in the form of a mandatory state-issued permit.

These laws affirm the nature of our individual God-given right to be armed, as codified in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which 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."

Constitutional Carry may also be referred to as Freedom to Carry, Permit-less Carry or Vermont Carry. Constitutional Carry is not “Unrestricted Carry”. It also does not abolish existing permit systems, or their corresponding reciprocity agreements.

Passing a Constitutional Carry bill is my key objective as President of the National Association for Gun Rights, and the primary goal of our State Affiliates. As of 2019, 15 states have adopted Constitutional Carry, making it is one of hottest pro-gun fights of the last decade.

The Makings of a Good Constitutional Carry Bill:

At NAGR, there are certain standards for what constitutes a clean Constitutional Carry bill. Constitutional Carry’s popularity in pro-gun states is undeniable, but conniving politicians will often peddle so-called Constitutional Carry or Permit-less Carry bills riddled with flaws.

There are 4 key features you will see in a clean Constitutional Carry bill:

  1. NO EXTRA REQUIREMENTS. 
    If a person is not prohibited from possessing a handgun, they should not be prohibited from carrying it.A clean Constitutional Carry bill should lift restrictions which prohibit a person who lawfully possesses a handgun from carrying.
  1. EQUAL PLACES.
    If a citizen with a license is not prohibited from carrying in a state, neither are those who do not possess a license.Concerning restrictions on the places a person can carry, a solid Constitutional Carry bill should remove any inequalities between a license holder and someone who does not possess a license.
  1. CLEAR.
    Citizens should not be in fear of unknowingly breaking the law. Clean Constitutional Carry bills should eliminate confusing language which might lead people to either (a) refrain from carrying because of legal uncertainty; or (b) accidentally carry unlawfully.
  1. GUN RIGHTS, NOT GUN PRIVILEGES.
    A government does not grant gun rights. Any Constitutional Carry bill worth its salt should recognize the freedom to keep and bear arms in self-defense as a God-given right, not a privilege bestowed by governments.

Addressing Concerns:

  1. Does Not Eliminate Permits: The ultimate goal is to make Constitutional Carry the law in every state. However, the political reality is that some states will lag further behind in adopting Constitutional Carry. In turn, states that pass Constitutional Carry will continue to offer permits to individuals who need them for reciprocity purposes.
  1. Does Not Alter Reciprocity Agreements: A good Constitutional Carry bill should NOT change the current permit system. It only gives gun owners another option for self-defense. Permits would still be optional and the same rules regarding reciprocity would still apply.
  1. Firearms Permits = “Coat Tax” Permits and their associated fees are essentially a coat tax. This is because open carry without a permit is already legal in 31 states. The very act of concealing a handgun requires a permit. However, carrying a handgun openly does not. At the end of the day, gun owners must pay a tax to wear a coat while carrying their handgun.
  1. Vermont Carry - Since 1777 Vermont is a unique case in American gun policy. From America’s foundation, Vermont always had Constitutional Carry. Rated as one of the nation’s safest states when it comes to violent crime, Vermont never had a restriction on the method of firearm carry and was an outlier in that aspect for a large portion of U.S. history. Given this history, Vermont does not issue permits whatsoever. That being said, residents can apply for permits from other states that issue them to non-residents for reciprocity reasons.

Current Constitutional Carry States:

From the formation of the 13 original states, Constitutional Carry was the law in all states until the 1800s. By the 20th century, all states except Vermont had enacted concealed carry bans, with an exemption in most states for those citizens with a permit.

Vermont

For many decades, the only state to allow "Constitutional Carry" of a handgun (i.e. without any government permit) was Vermont.

Alaska

On June 11, 2003, Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski signed House Bill 102, which removed the requirement to obtain a concealed weapons permit in order to carry a concealed firearm.

Arizona

On April 16, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1108 which was very similar to Alaska's bill.

Wyoming

On March 2, 2011 Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed SF 47 to allow Constitutional Carry.

Maine

On July 8, 2015 Maine became a Constitutional Carry state when Governor Paul LePage signed LD 652 into law.

Kansas

On April 2, 2015, Governor Sam Brownback signed SB 45, making Constitutional Carry the law of the land in Kansas.

West Virginia

On March 5, 2016, West Virginia became the seventh state to pass Constitutional Carry, HB 4145, into law.

Idaho

Governor Butch Otter signed SB 1389, the Constitutional Carry bill, March 24, 2016.

Mississippi

Constitutional Carry, HB 786, passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant on April 15, 2016; making Mississippi the ninth state to remove the permit requirement for concealed carry.

Missouri

In May of 2016, SB 656 cleared both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly with an overwhelming margin. The bill contained provisions to enact both “Constitutional Carry” and “Stand Your Ground laws.” On June 27, 2016, Governor Nixon vetoed the bill and a veto override session was scheduled. On September 14, 2016, Nixon’s veto was successfully overridden.

New Hampshire

Constitutional Carry, SB 12, was signed into law by Governor Chris Sununu on February 22, 2017. SB 12 was a clean Constitutional Carry Bill and cleared both chambers with overwhelming support.

North Dakota

North Dakota’s troubled Constitutional Carry bill HB 1169 was signed by Governor Doug Burgum on March 23, 2017 and went into effect on August 1, 2017.

South Dakota

South Dakota signed Constitutional Carry on January 31, 2019.  SB 47 repealed provisions, which prohibited anyone except law enforcement, from carrying a concealed handgun without a permit, or carrying a concealed handgun in ones car without a permit.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed Constitutional Carry bill HB 2597 into law on February 27, 2019 after a previous bill was vetoed by former Governor Mary Falin in 2018.

Kentucky

On March 11, 2019 Kentucky became the 15th state to pass Constitutional Carry when Governor Mat Bevin signed SB 150 into law.

States Considering Constitutional Carry in the 2019 Legislative Cycle:

The states considering, or that are likely to consider, Constitutional Carry in 2019 include Iowa, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia.

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.