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.
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.”
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.
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?