What’s the Case Against Constitutional Carry?

Several states including Tennessee, Montana and Colorado, Texas are currently considering bills that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms without a permit. Constitutional or permitless carry, as it’s known, is already the law of the land in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont and Wyoming.

To the chagrin of gun-grabbers, none of those states with permitless concealed carry laws have descended into chaos. There is no widespread upheaval. There are no maundering hordes of armed miscreants. There appears to be no disruption to civilized society. Everything is pretty much as it was before the laws passed.

State Rep. Rick Womick (Photo: John A. Gillis/Gannett Tennessee)

State Rep. Rick Womick (Photo: John A. Gillis/Gannett Tennessee)

Given this reality, the question is: what’s the case against Constitutional carry? In other words, why shouldn’t we allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms without a license?

One can also argue that the Constitution protects one’s right to not just keep arms but to bear (carry) them as well. So why are we letting permits and the permitting process get in the way of this fundamental right?

Recently, Tennessee lawmaker Rep. Rick Womick introduced such a bill into the state House. In talking with The Tennessean, Womick defined the bill and made a pretty good case as why one should support it.

“That is what they call a constitutional carry bill,” explained Womick, a Republican, to The Tennessean. “What this bill would do is allow you to carry a gun without a permit either concealed or unconcealed. It’s straight Second Amendment.”

“The bottom line is if you want to carry a handgun or a shotgun to go hunting, you still have to follow the law, but you don’t have to have a permit to do so,” continued Womick. “It only applies to a citizen in good legal standing.”

Indeed. Yet many Democratic lawmakers and gun control supporters oppose it. On what grounds you ask?

“I believe every gun owner should require a permit,” said Darrell Bouldin, the second vice chair of the Rutherford County Democratic Party. “And I believe that we should have even stricture gun-control laws where anyone who applies should have a complete background check and be denied said permit if they have a criminal background or have a background of instability of some kind.”

Rtc2” by Jeff Dege, Luieburger – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rtc.gif. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Likewise, Sara Mitchell of Rutherford County said, “We have an epidemic of gun violence in America, including shootings by children who gain access to their parents’ guns. Rather than relaxing gun laws, we should be trying to strengthen them and hold adults accountable for safeguarding their guns so that they are not accessible to children.”

Both Bouldin and Mitchell’s arguments are easy to shoot down. To start with Bouldin, his reasoning is we should have permits because, well, he simply believes we should. There are no facts or logic to back up his position, just his feelings on the issue. This is common with anti-gunners. They want to roll back the Second Amendment because they believe it’s the right thing to do or that it will save lives or that it will make us all safer, etc. Yet the facts just aren’t on their side.

By the numbers gun-loving Vermont had the lowest firearm murder rate per 100,000 residents in 2010. Vermont’s rate was .3 murders per 100,000 — again the lowest of all 50 states! Meanwhile, although it’s not a state, the District of Columbia which had a no-issue concealed carry standard in 2010 had by far the highest with 16.5 gun murders per 100,000 residents. That’s more than double the next closest state, which was Louisiana with 7.7 gun murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

While one should be cautious to make generalizations about crime data as there are many factors that influence crime rates, a rather obvious conclusion that one could discern from the numbers is that laws restricting concealed carry licensing have no measurable impact on the gun murder rate. If it they did, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont and Wyoming would all be at the top of the list. But they’re not. Respectively, per 100,000 residents, the rates were Alaska 2.7; Arizona 3.6; Arkansas 3.2; Vermont .3; and Wyoming 0.9. How does those numbers compare with the rest of the nation? To give you an idea the median rate was 2.7 murders per 100,000 residents.

Bouldin makes another critical blunder that is typical of a gun-grabber. That is, he fails to realize that criminals do not apply for concealed carry permits. Why would they? By their very nature they are outlaws, literally, meaning they don’t follow the law! Making the process more burdensome will only impact law-abiding applicants. Drug dealers and thugs will continue to pack heat without the permit.

Mitchell’s comments are equally absurd. There is no epidemic of gun violence in America. All crime, including violent crime, property crime and the gun-related homicide rate have uniformly declined over the past two decades. While one can argue that shootings are still too common in the U.S., the reality is that things are much better than they were in the 1980s and 1990s when gun laws were far more restrictive. Additionally, the majorities of shootings in this country happen in and around city centers (Chicago, D.C., Detroit) where there is widespread drug and gang activity. Were we to address the very real epidemic of drug/gang-related activity, then we’d see a serious decline in the number of gun murders. But instead of acknowledging this aspect of the crime equation, Mitchell is content with blaming guns and gun ownership.

Crime Rates in the U.S.  It was sourced form wikipedia, but for more extensive numbers check out the FBI stats.

Crime Rates in the U.S. It was sourced form wikipedia, but for more extensive numbers check out the FBI stats.

Mitchell also builds a straw man. Instead of discussing the topic at hand, permitless carry, she diverts attention to the disparate issue of children and firearms. On this subject, there is a lot to discuss, such as when to teach children about gun safety, optimal ways to secure firearms in a home, the decline in accidental shooting deaths over the past several years, among others. But let’s save this for another day and stick to the main question: the argument against constitutional carry.

From what I garner, there is only one semi-persuasive case to make against constitutional carry. And it has to do with mandatory training that it requires to obtain a permit. Some folks, including many gun owners, believe that mandatory training of some sort (range time and classroom time) and of some length (upwards of four hours but no more than 16 hours, which is Illinois’s requirement) is beneficial for the applicant and serves the interest of public safety. Someone who has had training, the theory goes, is more responsible, more safe, and more aware than someone who has not been trained.

It’s a hard argument to refute in any empirical way because there are no — at least to my knowledge — studies that examine the impact that gun safety training has had on a population. The only defense against mandatory training is that it’s an infringement on the Second Amendment. In a literal sense that may be true, but in reality no court or judge is going to rule that training is tantamount to an infringement. Instead, the court or judge would argue that it’s a “reasonable limitation,” much in the same way that one may need to obtain a permit before assembling in a public park. Constitutional purists will be pissed off by this, and rightfully so, but it is the world in which we live in.

Perhaps it’s just my Libertarian perspective but I think the dilemma over training ultimately comes down to the individual. Whether or not there is a training requirement in place, responsible individuals will still act responsibly. They will seek out training and instruction on their own. They will go the extra mile to ensure that they are safe when carrying in public. They will take time to learn local laws. They will do things the right way because that’s who they are. And, on the other side of the coin, knuckleheads will continue to be knuckleheads regardless of whether they receive training. Ironically then, I believe mandatory training is only effective on the folks who ultimately don’t need it.

So, what is a gun owner to do?  I support Constitutional carry.  Pending further developments, I see no concrete reason why one should oppose it.  At the same time, if residents of a state are comfortable with a permissive ‘shall-issue’ standard that requires training, then I guess I support that standard as well.  It may not be ideal or what the founders intended, but it seems to be a reasonable compromise in an age where gun ownership is constantly under fire.

Anyways, that’s where I come out on this.  What are your thoughts?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Hardrock March 3, 2015, 11:56 pm

    When my kids were growing up, I taught them about firearms as soon as they would see one leaning in the corner. I taught them how to shoot as soon as they could hold up the .22 rifle. I taught them how to hunt and how to make a clean shot on game and on paper. They learned early on that the bullet is what makes the squirrel or rabbit dead, and the same could happen if the bullet were to hit them or a friend. (The exploding pumpkin via shotgun was a wake-up they talk about to this day.) The training is necessary, as our founders also trained their families in many of the same ways. How do you think they learned the importance of the second amendment? I required my kids to take hunters safety and became a certified shotgun training instructor for 4-H to educate our youth. I believe we should have a shooting sports curriculum in the schools to mitigate the stigma of firearms, provide them with the basics of firearm safety, and give our kids the opportunity to choose; not have choices made for them. This is not a political issue, it is a fundamental constitutional, family, and, safety issue period. It does not have to be legislated, regulated, or, licensed. It should be knowledge passed down from generation to generation, in as much as starting a fire. We teach our kids not to play with matches don’t we? What happened to teaching them not to “play” with firearms? (And I’m not talking about cowboy & indian pre-tend games…..Oh my I just said a P.C.??? then……F.U., get a grip)

  • Claude February 25, 2015, 1:19 am

    I don’t know where Mr. Blannelberry got his information about “constitutional-permitless-unlimited/unlicensed/unrestricted” weapons carry, but do not believe everything on the internet (even this site). He wrote that Arkansas IS a constitutional carry state. I live in Arkansas. For ordinary persons (not law enforcement personnel) Arkansas requires a “Concealed Handgun Carry License” to carry a concealed hand gun legally. In Arkansas it is generally illegal to carry a loaded handgun openly when not in your home or on your own land, except when legally hunting.

    As I read the Constitution of the United States of America with all its amendments and the writings of the founders of this nation, They believed that every person had/has an uninfringeable right (even duty) to own, possess and bear arms. In their time “arms” included knives, swords, axes, clubs, polearms (spears, pikes, halberds, gisarmes, etc.), bows and guns (including ammunition). They did not put any limitations on the types or number of arms – even cannon. I have not read that they supported “reasonable” or “common sense” restrictions on this right.

    Rather than limit the individual ownership of arms, they would enact and ENFORCE laws/ punishments for the harmful use (murder, assault, threatening, etc.) of a weapon.

    They certainly would consider any license, permit, registration, purchase waiting period, and (probably) background check or tax on arms as an infringement that the second amendment prohibits. They probably would consider any required license, permit, registration, purchase waiting period or background check as the preparation for confiscation.

  • Mark February 23, 2015, 11:26 pm

    I’ve always felt that our nation began going downhill as gun rights became curtailed, unconstitutionally I might add. There’s no fear of anything or anyone anymore. The bad guys run wild, unimpeded. They can say or do what they want, and who is going to stop them? I have a theory. Holster a sidearm on everyone and things will get cleaned up fast once everyone goes back to having to take responsibility for what they say and do because they just might be held accountable. Call it the wild west syndrome, but I truly and seriously think that our decline came with gun restrictions. There was a time when someone said something really disparaging about someone that then resulted into a walk out into the street, line up back to back, each walk off ten paces, turn…and resolve the problem one way or the other. Take the fear of having to take responsibility and being held for one’s actions, and everything runs amuck. We have people running our nation, lying to us every Sunday morning on some morning TV show, robbing our unborn future generations of 18 TRILLION in debt, because they know that no one can or will do anything…we’ve been neutered. We have thugs standing in front of election polling places caught on video, denying voters entrance to vote…because they can. We have adults taking little kids in alleys and having sex with them…because they needn’t fear. We have drug cartel members coming across the borders unimpeded, causing violent crimes, even injuring and in one case killing our border guards and running back across the borders…who stops them? I could go on and on, but what for? It’s my God given right to carry a firearm, backed by our Constitution, and if that makes you queasy, then get your doctor to prescribe you something that causes you to sit in a corner somewhere blowing bubbles on yourself, comfortably, but your fears are not my fears or my problem. I don’t have children, and your children are not my problem either. If you are going to make me responsible for your children, then I want time in bed with your wife to get my monies worth. That’s my offer, take it or leave it. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other.

  • DaveGinOly February 23, 2015, 11:02 pm

    I agree that mandatory training is necessary before being allowed to “constitutional carry.” I also think that before you’re allowed to believe in God, you should be required to say a prayer and have it answered. Until its answered, you’re not allowed to practice your religion.

    • DRAINO February 26, 2015, 8:22 am

      Well, remember….No is an answer. Mine was answered no when he was re-elected…LOL!!!

  • DaveGinOly February 23, 2015, 10:32 pm

    Is there “mandatory firearms training” in any of the constitutional carry states? I’m betting not, because constitutional carry means you can carry if you want to, with no government interference. And we’ve already seen that those states don’t suffer from not having mandatory training, dismissing the idea that mandatory training is necessary for public safety.

    Readers may find these articles of interest:

    • DRAINO February 26, 2015, 8:17 am

      HERE HERE, DaveGinOly!!! Well said! And may I add that issues of slavery and voting rights did not free us from tyranny…..Guns did! They were a result of people(including black people) using said unpermitted guns for defense…..against what?….against a tyrannical government who wanted full control. Wow…didn’t see that coming, did we?

  • SgtDucttape February 23, 2015, 4:11 pm

    I believe the anti-gun crowd is such because they believe everyone else is like them. They feel they are near the edge of mayhem and barely in control of themselves. What would happen if they weren’t very careful with themselves? They would possibly go berserk and cause terrible things on society. And they aren’t different from everybody else, so everyone must be right on the edge of creating a path of destruction. Therefore, we must remove these tools that would allow anyone to create that destruction. They are barely keeping it together and since everyone else is just like them…

    It is a flawed premise but I think very applicable in many scenarios with the anti-crowd.

  • pete February 23, 2015, 4:06 pm

    Thank goodness constitutional purists are not in charge. Otherwise only white land-owning men would be voting, slavery would be legal, little kids working in very dangerous jobs, etc etc etc We are all smarter now than practically any ‘founding father’ ever was, and we all have a better sense of justice and morality. We stand on their shoulders, not below them. We evolve and improve.

    • rob October 27, 2016, 2:26 pm

      Those are things covered in the ammendments. They are in the Constitution. Not sure I get your point.

  • Genuine George February 23, 2015, 11:32 am

    Well said MarkPA. With regard to the training requirement some examples from other areas may be instructive. Numerous professional licensing/certification requirements allow for “challenge exams.” These vary from “all or nothing” to “partial waiver” approaches. In the former, if you take and pass the challenge exam you are exempted from the training/education requirement. In the latter you can waive the training/education component for the portion(s) of the CE you pass. In neither case you don’t have to sit in a course covering what you have demonstrated a mastery of. You only take it if you demonstrate that you need it–to help you fulfill your duty as a responsible citizen. The strength of the pack is in the wolf and the strength of the wolf is in the pack.

    In this context training/education can take on the character of actually enhancing knowledge/competency of firearm owners/carriers, instead of serving as a barrier to the exercise of SA rights. For instance, in my state, which is devoid of statutory guidance regarding defensive use of a firearm and instead relies on evolving case law, knowledge about the current state of case law and its implications for my future behavior would be very valuable. If I didn’t already know and understand the case law, education in that area would potentially make me safer. We should stand the education component on its head: redefine its scope, content and intended outcomes. That along with Shall Issue would make for a vast improvement.

  • MarkPA February 23, 2015, 9:53 am

    I look at “permits” vs. Constitutional-Carry in terms of their respective political utility – today – in the march to defend the 2A. If one or the other served our cause toward success, that is the one I would back.
    Con-Carry doesn’t really do much for us in that it doesn’t help to win the undecided voter to our cause. If gun owners in a particular State feel they are pretty close to passing Con-Carry, by all means go for it in THAT State; but, don’t call on gun-owners nation-wide to spend resources on converting the Won’t-Issue States to Con-Carry States.
    To “normalize” guns in the un-committed voter’s eye we ought to be promoting Shall-Issue in the Won’t-Issue States. Non-gunnies can associate CWPs to driver’s licenses; and, this is easy to accept. This guy is driving around with a 72.0 calibre destructive device; but, it’s OK because he has a State-issued license. That gal is walking around with a 0.38 calibre self-defense device; but, it’s OK because she has a State-issued permit.
    Some of us get all lathered up by the words “license” or “permit”; as-if the document is a grant-by-the-grace of government. WE don’t have to be lathered-up by our own semantics for these words. They are quite wrongly construed as a “grant-by-the-grace” of government. Anyone can get a driver’s “license” if he is of the designated age, can see and passes a test. (Keeping it requires good-behavior; but you can get a lot of tickets before your license is suspended.) There is nothing “May-Issue” about a driver’s license. Likewise, a marriage “license”.
    What we ought to do is construe all of these State licenses/permits including carry-documents as “certification” documents. I.e., the State has examined the qualifications of the citizen and certifies that s/he meets the requirements established under State law.
    What are these requirements for guns? Mainly, you can’t be a prohibited person. Certification of that fact is done according to Federal and State criteria. Are each of those criteria Constitutional? We can – and will – debate this question; yet, it’s a separate question. Before I step out into the street I’d like to have agreement between myself and the State that I am NOT a prohibited person. Mainly, that means resolving any identity ambiguity in case a felon has the same name as I have.
    We should want to promote, with the un-committed voter, the idea that peaceable gun-owners get themselves “certified” that their records are clean before carrying in public. This is a system that enables the police – in the event of some incident – to quickly separate the sheep from the goats when a gun is being carried.
    Some States have a training requirement; others don’t. This fact gives us the opportunity to measure the efficacy of permit requirements. (So far, my understanding is, that training requirements have not shown efficacy.) We would be much better off converting the Won’t-Issue States to Shall-Issue with a high training requirement than to persist with them as Won’t-Issue. The training requirement could be reduced in the future.
    I think that the politically viable next step is National Reciprocity. If Pennsylvanians can carry in NJ, Virginians in MD, then those jurisdictions will be under enormous pressure to become Shall-Issue for their own citizens. They may start out with high fees, high training requirements and tight exclusions (never convicted of spitting on the sidewalk). But, over time, they can be rolled-back toward national norms. Voters in the Shall-Issue States have the power to exert their will in Congress. Voters in the Won’t-Issue States are disempowered by their local political process. Will we – free-State residents – step up to the plate? Or, will we smugly look away, satisfied that we got what we want in our home-State(s)?

    • DRAINO February 26, 2015, 8:06 am

      Careful! you are starting to sound like a Kool-Aid drinker. Don’t let them pound you into acceptance…..exactly what they are doing….taking it a little piece at a time. Stand firm! If it was constitutional enough to have founded our freedom, pretty sure it’s still constitutional enough to not need a permit today. But tell yourself whatever you need to rationalize giving them up.,,,your rights that is.

  • Steve February 23, 2015, 9:02 am

    I can never understand why people always blame the gun. I think a lot of the problem is from the TV/Movie industry. The shows and movie are much more violent orientated with weapons. This goes same for the video game industry.

  • Ram 6 February 23, 2015, 8:58 am

    “And I believe that we should have even stricture gun-control laws where anyone who applies should have a complete background check and be denied said permit if they have a criminal background or have a background of instability of some kind.” So says Darrell Bouldin a Democratic party functionary.

    It’s what they always say and never seem to see the irony in that statement. First of all criminals don’t apply for permits and further have no background checks and cannot be denied any kind of permit. Why? Because they are CRIMINALS!

    The only thing the permitting process does is rake in money for the state, subject honest, law abiding citizens to the scrutiny of the state for something that is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Why? It’s nothing but another exercise in control over our lives by people who think they know what’s best for us. Carrying a firearm is NOT the same as acquiring a driver’s license. The right to bear arms is just that, A RIGHT, driving a car is a privilege and is nowhere found in the Constitution so the two are not equivelant.

    I have a CCP in the state of Tennessee and went through the required process to acquire the permit, even though I am a U.S. Army veteran, have been around firearms all my life and know exactly how to handle one safely. I paid 75 dollars for the course and additional money to the state for the permit itself. Why? So some funtionary could determine if I was a criminal? If I was one, I wouldn’t have gone through the process in the first place.

    Representative Rick Womick is absolutely right and every gun owner in the state should be supporting his efforts.

  • Paul February 23, 2015, 8:15 am

    I think the real issue is our Constitutional Rights and the free exercise thereof. I Do Not need a Permit or License to exercise my other Constitutional rights like Free Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Assembly etc. Can’t imagine living in a country where I would need a Permit to go to the Church of my choice, or gather with my friends….

  • John Russell February 23, 2015, 7:52 am

    POS’s ie LIBTURDS will do everything and anything to restrict gun ownership and control guns like so many other crooked laws which we already know NO ABSOLUTELY NO criminal respects or ever obeys…this is not to control crime or the criminals but YOU THE LAW ABIDING CITIZEN period!

  • S2Scout February 23, 2015, 7:12 am

    If it was all about child safety, then they would mandate the NRA Child Safety Program Eddie Eagle in school. The mere fact hey don’t says that its not about child safety! It’s more their fear of firearms. Having taken 2 very anti gun people to a range and given them proper handleing teaching, they both loved firing a few of my recreational firerarms. We should adopt the motto:”Take an anti to thr range and watch them change”.

    • Zeke February 23, 2015, 8:04 am

      Right on S2 Scout, We too are in the process of bringing an ati to the range to change!

  • DRAINO February 21, 2015, 7:30 am

    Hmmm…..seems the blue-er and green-er the states get on the map…..the lower the crime rate goes. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. If everyone carries, then everyone is equal. On an equal playing field that is. And stop hiding behind “the safety of our children”. Children are included in the dropping 20 year crime rate too you know. Its all about control….and the left/liberals’ mandatory requirement that everyone be under control and subject to their way of thinking. Pure and simple. Can you say “FREEDOM”!!!???

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