In most cases, fighting for gun rights means fighting against laws and politicians that would attempt to change the status quo and further restrict Americans access to firearms. In some cases, though, gun rights proponents have the opportunity to fight for even more freedom than they currently have under the law. Such is the case with constitutional carry – a policy that is quickly transitioning from an ideology to actual law in states across the country.
What is Constitutional Carry?
Constitutional carry dictates that the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to carry firearms regardless of whether or not they have obtained a concealed carry permit. While federal courts have yet to interpret the constitution in such a way, several states are taking it upon themselves to offer their citizens this right, enabling them to lawfully carry a firearm without any kind of permit or special training.
Constitutional Carry Vs Open Carry
Though often confused, constitutional carry and open carry are two very different policies. Right now, 30 states allow open carry without a permit. However, only 12 states offer constitutional carry.
The difference between open carry and constitutional carry comes down to whether or not you are able to carry your firearm concealed. In states that allow constitutional carry, you are able to conceal a firearm on your person or in your vehicle without any kind of permit. In states that allow permitless open carry, you can carry a firearm without a permit, but it has to be clearly visible.
For most people and most situations, concealed carry is greatly preferred over open carry. Concealed carry allows you to remain discreet. This means that you are not only able to avoid potentially awkward encounters but are also able to avoid making yourself a target by letting wrongdoers know that you are armed.
States that Allow Constitutional Carry
Right now, the states which offer constitutional carry are:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Of course, this list may be changing very soon. Up until 2003, Vermont was the only state to allow constitutional carry, and it wasn’t until as recently as 2016 that the majority of the states on the list began to allow it. Most recently, Alabama has filed legislation to become a constitutional carry state, and in the coming months and years, more and more states may do the same.
Is Constitutional Carry a Good Idea?
While gun rights advocates are normally fully united in favor of any law that increases the freedom Americans have to bear arms, there are a few points of controversy concerning constitutional carry.
Most notably is the point that constitutional carry removes much of the incentive for people to receive formal training with their firearm before they carry it. In order to adopt safe carry habits as well as prepare yourself for a range of situations where you may have to use your firearm, formal training from a licensed instructor is extremely beneficial. For states that do not allow constitutional carry, some type of training is almost always required in order to receive a concealed carry permit.
The flip side of this issue is that the cost and hassle of getting a concealed carry permit and the training that goes along with it is often a major barrier to entry for many people, persuading them not to carry a handgun when they otherwise would.
Gun control advocates often try to put forth the idea that constitutional carry opens us up to a “wild west” type society where everyone is armed and people are gunned down in the streets. However, the data from states that have been allowing constitutional carry for some time now simply does not bear this out. The truth is that there are no instances to support the idea that constitutional carry is in any way a threat to public safety.
With this being the case, the recent rise of states allowing constitutional carry is certainly a positive trend for supporters of the Second Amendment, and we can hope that more and more states will begin to allow their citizens to defend themselves without restriction.
~ American Gun News