Constitutional carry is advancing in 2021. Two states have already signed it into law so far this year and several more have bills working their way through their legislatures that would eliminate government licensing for exercising an enumerated civil right.
What is Constitutional Carry?
For those just tuning in, Constitutional Carry means a state doesn’t require a permit or licensing process for concealed or open carry. There still may be significant restrictions on where one can do that, as places such as schools and government buildings may still be designated as off limits.
Contrary to the gun control community’s hair-on-fire scare tactics, laws prohibit felons, those who a court has determined are mentally incompetent, and other potentially dangerous people from even possessing a gun are still in effect. It’s still illegal for such “prohibited persons” to possess a firearm.
Constitutional carry simply means that people who already can pass a background check to purchase a firearm from an FFL are allowed to carry one without a government-issued permission slip. It’s called constitutional carry because it respects the constitutionally-protected rights of citizens to keep and bear arms.
Vermont has had permitless carry for more than a century because the state never prohibited it. A local government attempted to prohibit concealed carry, but that ordinance was struck down in a state court decision in 1903. The right to carry, however, slowly eroded in every other state. In many cases the infringements of gun rights started out as Jim Crow laws that were theoretically applicable to all people, but in practice were only used against former slaves and other minorities.
In the last four decades the tide has clearly turned. First, a growing number of states allowed concealed carry with a state permit. Then, in 2003, Alaska enacted permitless carry. Arizona followed in 2010, becoming first state with significant urban population to eliminate permit requirements. Other states like Idaho, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Mississippi have since done the same.
Is It Dangerous?
Every time a state considers removing the permit requirement, the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex storms the legislature, raising dire predictions about how it will increase the murder rate, result in shootouts over parking spaces and be abused by criminals. They usually dig up a few useful big city police chiefs to claim constitutional carry will make things more dangerous for law enforcement.
Blood will run ankle-deep in the streets, we’re told, without sufficient gun control measures on the books.
There’s only one problem. Literally none of this is true. Their dire media-driven predictions haven’t come true anywhere that constitutional carry has been made law.
A 2018 study showed that crime does not rise when a state rescinds their permit requirements. It may seem counterintuitive to some, but researchers find that people are, in fact, safer when they take responsibility for their own personal protection instead of letting someone else establish rules that absolve them of the need to use common sense.
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs has an excellent article and video that illustrates this principle:
So far, two states have signed constitutional carry into law this year: Utah and Montana bring the total to 18 states. That’s better than it’s ever been in our lifetimes, but there’s still a lot of opportnity out there
Maybe the state that’s most notable by its absence on the constitutional carry map is Texas. The state has a reputation for being gun friendly, but open carry (for those with concealed carry permits) was only legalized in 2015.
@GregAbbott_TX why are we not yet on this list? For shame…
— TexasYankee (@texasyankee77) February 21, 2021
Texas’s governor and legislature is coming under increasing pressure for being behind the the constitutional carry curve. Fortunately, there are several bills in Texas that could turn this situation around.
“The fact that several legislators have filed legit Constitutional Carry bills — and that we have bills in both the House and Senate — is telling of the fact that Constitutional Carry is gaining momentum.” said Rachel Malone, head of the Texas director for Gun Owners of America. “Legislators are realizing that Texas is behind many other states on gun carry rights, and it’s their job to fix it.”
In the state Senate, there’s SB 540, which basically changes “license holder” to “person” in the gun laws, allowing anyone to do what license holders do today as long as they’re at least 21 years old and can legally purchase a gun. It would also create a new 30.08 sign, allowing property owners to decide to prohibit unlicensed people from carrying if they so choose. They could still post the 30.06 and/or 30.07 signs if they want to prohibit everyone from carrying on their private property.
In the Texas House, there’s HB 1238, HB 1927, and a combo of HB1587 and HB 821 that would each get the state to constitutional carry if passed into law. There are some differences between them, but they’re all better than what Texas has now. You can get a lot more information here.
“Whether it passes depends on how many people contact their legislators right now and let the legislators know that their constituents want it.” Malone said.
Indiana, Tennessee, and Georgia
These three states all have bills that would allow constitutional carry at various stages of the legislative process.
In Indiana, HB 1369 already passed the House, but still needs to be passed by the Senate. In Tennessee, there are two competing bills that would enact some form of constitutional carry. The governor’s preferred bill would only apply to residents of the state, and an alternative bill would apply to people from anywhere who can legally possess a gun. Georgia’s bill is currently awaiting a hearing in committee. You can get more information at GeorgiaCarry.org.
In each of these states, contact the committees to which they are assigned to let them know you support the bill, and if you live in the state, contact your legislators to show support. If all these pass, we’d have gained 6 Constitutional Carry states in 2021, putting us at 22 states. Whether this happens is up to YOU.