Are Opponents of Constitutional Carry Anti-Gun?

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).  Is he anti-gun because he opposes Constitutional carry?  (Photo: Huffpo)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Is he anti-gun because he opposes Constitutional carry? (Photo: Huffpo)

When it comes to the right of the people to keep and bear arms, you’re either for it or you’re against. There is no middle ground. You either support the Second Amendment and believe “shall not be infringed” means what it says or you don’t. Plain and simple, right?

A lot of gun owners think this way. Are they wrong? No. But at the same time, they have to realize that not everyone shares this binary way of thinking. There are a lot of what I call “moderate” pro-gunners. They believe in the Second Amendment but they also believe in “reasonable limitations.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) appears to fall into this category. He describes himself as “law-abiding gun owner, hunter, card-carrying life member of the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment advocate,” but along with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), he was the architect of a federal bill that would have required background checks on all gun purchases. Known as the 2013 Manchin-Toomey amendment, it was vociferously opposed by the NRA.

According to the nation’s gun lobby, Manchin-Toomey’s universal background check bill “would have criminalized certain private transfers of firearms between honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members” to get government approval.

Some gun owners believed that Manchin’s push for universal background checks was reasonable. Some believe that it wasn’t reasonable and would have paved the way for more draconian gun-control laws. At the end of the day, the bill failed to reach the 60 votes needed to override a GOP-led filibuster and clear the Senate.

More recently, Manchin came out against a Constitutional concealed carry bill in West Virginia. Constitutional carry or permitless carry allows one to carry a concealed firearm without first having to receive a permit. Essentially, the Second Amendment is one’s license to carry concealed — no training, no fees, no background check which are typically some of the prerequisites to obtaining a permit.

For Manchin, Constitutional carry is a bad idea.

“I have always supported a West Virginian’s right to bear arms,” Manchin said in a statement last week. “Senate Bill 347 would allow a person to carry a concealed gun without a permit or requirement of safety training and that is irresponsible and dangerous to the people of West Virginia.”

SB 347 cleared both chambers of the Legislature. It’s now on it’s way to the Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s desk.

“There is not one West Virginian whose Second Amendment rights will be infringed without this bill,” Manchin continued. “In West Virginia, we believe in gun sense, which is common sense, and it only makes common sense for concealed carry applicants to receive proper training. I commend the brave legislators who voted no and represented their constituents who know that this is irresponsible.”

As the NRA-ILA pointed out, Manchin’s stance is “bizarre.” Not only because one is allowed to carry a firearm openly without a permit — i.e. without “proper training” — in West Virginia but also because he sponsored and voted for federal legislation that would allow “non-residents to carry concealed without a permit in West Virginia.”

(Relevant gun discussion starts at 4:00 minutes)

Needless to say, Manchin is all over the road when it comes to the Second Amendment. He is very inconsistent. Maybe he is confused. But, one could argue that he is still pro-gun. That because he supports a shall-issue concealed carry standard, which when compared to a no-issue (CCW ban) or may-issue (arbitrary government approval for CCW) he is still one of the good guys. Right?

It’s an interesting question because at times Manchin is an ally for and at times he is an adversary to gun rights. And, of course, he is not the only one. There are probably millions of people who share Manchin’s perspective, particularly as it relates to carry. They are pro-shall issue, but anti-Constitutional carry.

Regardless of whether or not you or I believe they’re being reasonable or sensible (I could easily make a case they are not, given the negative correlation between gun ownership, expanded carry rights and crime statistics; gun rights have been expanded over past two decades, crime has dropped uniformly), the reality is that we can’t afford to alienate these people. When it comes to  the Manchins of the world we have to respect their right to have an opinion on the matter. We don’t have to agree with them and we can definitely point out where they are being illogical, but we can’t disrespect them, we can’t shout them down and we can’t label them “anti-gunners.” If we do, we run the risk of losing a large portion of mainstream gun owners.

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

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Dale W Johnson March 26, 2015, 4:05 am

    FBI checks should bother no one at a gun show, it only takes a few minutes. Gun shows are different than selling to your neighbor.

  • Frank March 23, 2015, 8:26 pm

    Here in Alaska, we had open carry but no concealed carry. Then a CCW bill was introduced in the legislature. “Blood in the streets.” Screamed the liberals. It passed and became law. No blood in the streets.
    Then a bill came forward to remove most of the restrictions on where we could carry. “Blood in the streets,” screamed the liberals. It passed. No blood in the streets.
    Then a bill for Constitutional Carry was introduced. “Blood in the streets” screamed the liberals. It passed. No blood in the streets.
    We still have CCW’s for those who wish to carry in other states when they travel, but here in Alaska any person who is legally able to purchase a handgun may carry it concealed. To me, open carry is mildly foolish. If I am armed when the goblins arrive, I would prefer that they didn’t know that until it is too late. Criminals could care less what the laws are. They will do the crime anyway. Laws only affect law abiding citizens. DUH

    • Kalashnikov Dude March 24, 2015, 2:11 pm

      Frank, I’m with you on most everything you say. Except open carry. Every single time I leave my home, I have two guns on my person. most times, I openly carry my Glock 21 .45 ACP, and have my two shot .22 LR Davis Derringer in an ankle holster as well. There are times when I carry both concealed for various reasons, including social decorum, and even because some public area’s are supposed to be “gun free zones”. When I have a choice, I avoid area’s like this altogether. Sometimes I have no choice but to enter these area’s. When I do, my 2nd Amendment rights do not magically disappear and reappear after I leave said “gun free zone”. And what those who think they should, don’t know, won’t hurt em. As long they don’t try to hurt me. My point is the choice in how we keep and bear arms is ours and ours alone. Concealed, openly, long, short, in between and mode of fire. There are laws governing what we do with all of these arms. When I break them, say for instance a shooting, or brandishing or some other infraction will and should land me swiftly and surely in trouble with authorities. Beyond that governments, federal, state, or municipal have no right to infringe on what guns, or how I choose to keep and bear them anywhere within these United States. And you can say one way or the other is foolish or wise, as long as it always remains the individuals choice. That’s what’s important here, near as I can tell.

  • DaveGinOly March 23, 2015, 4:01 pm

    “They believe in the Second Amendment but they also believe in ‘reasonable limitations.'”

    Rights are self-limiting and don’t require regulation.

    You often hear that your right to free speech is limited – you can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Pernicious nonsense! It is not illegal to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater – there may be a fire, and it would be perfectly appropriate to do so. However, if your intent is not the quick evacuation of the theater in the event of an emergency, but is malicious and to cause injury and panic, then you are not exercising a right, you are committing a CRIME. No innocent parties are ever intentionally injured by the exercise of a right. Any action that intentionally injures someone is a crime, not a right.

    People who use the “crowded theater” argument (or similar) are conflating “crimes” with “rights.” They do not understand the difference. Carrying concealed or open, owning a fully-automatic weapon, possessing armor-piercing bullets, etc. are all innocent activities so long as they are possessed and used peaceably. You have a right to do just about anything in a peaceable manner. The moment you abuse your freedom of action, you are committing a crime. (Notice I did not say “abuse your right” – you cannot “abuse” a right – the moment you do something that intentionally harms an innocent party, you are no longer exercising a right. You are generally “free” to do as you please – this is called “freedom.” However, you are also responsible for any injury caused by negligent or criminal acts.)

    Some say that rights need regulation in order to prevent their exercise from devolving into, or enabling, criminal acts. George Washington answered this sentiment:
    “It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

    If I may be so bold as to add to the sentiment, it is equally unjust to deprive a man of his natural liberty on the supposition that someone else may abuse it.

    • Damon March 23, 2015, 6:44 pm

      What a great post. Well done, sir.

  • Derek March 23, 2015, 10:14 am

    Constitution Carry applies only to law abiding citizens. The outlaws and thugs will do what they want to do regardless if this Bill becomes law. The Governor has vetoed this Bill even though it was passed by a large majority in both houses with bi-party support. Many State Senators have signed a petition to recall our State elected officials in an attempt to over ride the veto. This has never been done before in West Virginia history. The “no training” issue is an excuse as mentioned it is already legal to open carry in our State. If you put a coat on over it you then become a felon! The County Sheriffs are pushing against this Bill because they fear of losing the background check money. The Sheriff’s Fund would actually increase once new ccw persons become comfortable carrying which will encourage the formal permit process for carrying out of State with states that have reciprocity with us. The borders of our State has recently received a large amount of new residents from bordering high tax states because of high taxes. Many of them have no background with handguns and have been brainwashed by their Liberal elected officials and philosophy. West Virginia votes have voted in a Republican Majority in the State Houses for the first time in 80+ years. I’m of the opinion the Governor is being influenced by one of our State’s last good ol boy Liberal political strongholds that of our Capital city Charleston’s political machine. This is my personal opinion.

  • Charles L Bloss Jr March 23, 2015, 10:05 am

    We are debating a constitutional carry bill in KS. Statewide open carry is already the law. Concealed carry requires a permit. I do not think that is fair, or equitable. I am a retired deputy sheriff, life member of NRA, GOA & LEAA. Member of KS State Rifle Assn. I carry a LEOSA permit. Because of the discrepancy between open carry & concealed carry in KS, I strongly support constitutional carry. We have had few if any adverse incidents since statewide open carry became law.

  • Doc Loch March 23, 2015, 9:51 am

    I still can’t see how a law that says: “the right…shall not be infringed” can be opined by anyone as “subject to reasonable regulation.”

    These are two completely antithetical statements. In English, they cannot be mutually reconciled. In other words until the 2nd Amendment is amended. The highest law of the land asserts that any United States citizen can choose to carry any armament they choose as long as they do not violated the rights of others. Of course anyone can take away any of our rights at any time. It’s just that the founding fathers and many today believed and believe that we have not only a right, but responsibility to resist by the force of armaments the usurpation of these rights. YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS, EXCEPTING THOSE YOU ARE WILLING TO FIGHT, KILL, AND DIE FOR! The president, the congress and the supreme court may say all that they want, but until we the people relinquish our rights voluntarily by process of amendment, or simply by apathy and irresponsibility, we maintain those rights.

    By the way, if someone wants to argue the old worn out…”but what about shouting, ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater?” I would simply respond: “Show me where the 1st amendment has the words “shall not be infringed.” I think those who wrote that amendment knew exactly what they were doing.

    Everyone ought to get a little more education about the entire amendment as well. For the impatient or illiterate here is one good bit of info:

    • GalenH3 April 3, 2015, 1:01 pm

      Doc Loch, I think your logic is irrefutable. Since I agree completely, could we and others at least agree that there is a rub and it is this:

      At the time that the Second Amendment was drafted it is more than likely that there was at least one gun in every home. Whether used for hunting or protection, it was a tool that the entire family understood how to operate. Due to urbanization and modern law enforcement people allowed themselves to believe that they were safe without a gun — a false assumption to be sure. In addition due to liberal education, the thought of our Founders that citizens could rise up against a dictatorial government has been lost on the recipients of such education. Further, today even a State’s guns (let alone the citizens’) can’t match the modern weapon technology of the Federal Government. While I might fantasize about living in a State willing to secede from the madness we call the U.S government, the reality of that isn’t likely. The mismatch in armaments should be obvious. The culture of the Founding Fathers is simply not our’s today. Denying this important point is foolish at best and at worst dangerous to our Second Amendment Right.

      I know of a sixty year old woman, who has never fired a gun in her life. She recently purchased a CCW in Georgia with no educational requirement. She is typical of many Americans. While I agree she has and should have the Constitutional right to bear arms, if we don’t at least address the educational aspect (responsible ownership), we are merely offering more “ammo” for the anti-gun liberals.

      Since we don’t live in the culture of our Founding Fathers, where everyone was comfortable using a firearm, this issue must be addressed. The question is how to best address it. As citizens I would argue that if we don’t want the individual states to mandate the educational requirement, than we need to incorporate it in the free market. I know this would likely mean a slight overall price increase in firearms, but perhaps gun stores could offer a discount for those buying a weapon if they go through a weapon’s education class that covered gun safety and current criminal and civil laws. This obviously does not cover private sales, but would at least be one way for the industry to help itself. Another way would be for organizations like the NRA or GOA to offer local, highly marketed classes that would offer certificates for satisfactory completion. Ideally these classes would be free or at least available for a very nominal expense. Perhaps others can suggest other ways that we can be responsible in gun education.

      I don’t want the 60 year old lady I mentioned to a be bad statistic due to a negligent discharge or her failure to understand that her Constitutional right to own a gun should carry with it at least a modicum of common sense. She and others need to learn how to use their firearm(s) properly and be familiar with current laws. If they don’t, they become the responsible gun owner’s worst nightmare. I am for Constitutional carry, but I recognize a problem when I see one and it’s one we can fix — hopefully without government mandate. This is likely the primary issue that Joe Manchin was essentially wrestling with. I just don’t agree with his solution. We must offer a better one. I hope you and other 2nd Amendment advocates agree.

  • James B. Towle March 23, 2015, 9:38 am

    I take it from the responses I am reading that “gun training” is all about shooting well…yes it is…but that’s only half of what Training is..or should be…becoming familiar with your gun and gun maintenance.. especially gun retention quickly come to mind. Also how many times have we read where adults and children alike have mishandled a gun and someone died…that’s improper gun safety procedures and thoughtless gun placement and storage. How about the decision to “Draw or Retreat” who’s teaching that? All I’m saying is there is much more to TEACHING than shooting well..and if your calling yourself an Instructor you should be doing more than just enforcing the 180 rule and sending lead down range….Tomorrows Instructors will not only have a great deal more responsibility… but will be paid well because of their teaching curriculum…it’s gone way beyond what your Daddy taught you in the garage.

  • John Kelly March 23, 2015, 8:57 am

    I have always believed, and still do, that the founding fathers intended for each individual to be responsible for their
    actions !!!That’s all the training they need…I am not against training, I am against mandatory training…..

    • Russ March 23, 2015, 6:15 pm

      Plain and simple common sense John Kelly. Thank you.
      The consequences for breaking the law is up to the individual.
      Don’t do it.

  • Redroc March 23, 2015, 8:36 am

    What is the training supposed to accomplish? As a CCW holder in Montana (which requires no government-mandated training), I train routinely to improve and maintain my skills in the draw from the concealed and open conditions, plus target acquisition and hitting what I’m supposed to hit. The more you train and shoot your pistol, the more you realize the necessity of training. When discussing whether a person should have a gun for self defense, quite often I hear people say “I keep one at home in case somebody breaks in some night”. This seems to be the single female’s greatest fear. But when I ask how often they train, the answer typically is “I’ve shot it a couple of times”.

    Obviously, the lack of regular gun-handling practice, dry practice, shooting, etc, is a safety issue. We need to do all we can to help these people get to the range and shoot to develop their comfort level.

  • Mike March 23, 2015, 7:47 am

    Joe Manchin is just another anti-gun democrat who can’t seem to honor his commitment to uphold the Constitution of the United States. What part of “and bear arms” doesn’t he understand. Our founding fathers regularly open carried long arms.

  • David W. Stephenson March 23, 2015, 7:35 am

    How does Manchin know weither a peson is qualified to carry weapon or not? doese he have magical powers that the rest of the American gun owners don’tknow about. I for one do not Like Manchin.he’s all over the place when to comes to guns. It always happens when they get elected,they know more about any given subject then anyone else. Politicians, don’t care for any of them!

  • Dr1776 March 21, 2015, 12:12 pm

    The real question should be, do you believe you need a license to exercise a Constitutionally protected right?

    • DaveGinOly March 23, 2015, 3:29 pm

      I think you do. In order to exercise your First Amendment right to your personal religious beliefs, you should be required to register your beliefs with the appropriate authorities, and then take a test to qualify for your belief system – you must make a prayer, and have your prayer answered in three days. Fail the test, and no religion for you!

    • Roady March 23, 2015, 6:04 pm

      I’ve never heard of “Constitutional carry”. We have the Right to keep & bear arms. But there are limitations to all our rights if you claim to be reasonable person. We have freedom of speech but you can’t yell “Fire” when there inn’t one. You can’t call the current CHIEF executive a low down communist son of a bitch without proof or it’s slander. You can’t even say you’re going to put that “gentleman” out of your misery or the Secret Service will lock your ass up.
      Our western heritage teaches us that if you go healed in some city limits, it causes bloodshed. The arms must be in our possession or we wouldn’t be able to stop our ruling class from putting us in total slavery. We don’t have to be able to carry them everywhere to do that. In Texas we can have guns in our homes & cars. When a person commits a felony he loses that right completely.but It’s not an all or nothing proposition. We have reasonable restrictions on all our rights. You are free to pursue happiness but not if that happiness means someone else must lose theirs.
      WE are able to control ourselves, we are not gun addicts- we can rule our emotions just as we would to prevent any addiction that requires abstention. As our culture becomes more & more complicated we will have to be smart enough to retain our rights while observing the rule of law. If that’s not happening, WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE DECLARATION: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpation s, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
      The “Guards” we presently have need not to be thrown OFF, but be THROWN OUT.

      • DaveGinOly March 23, 2015, 11:39 pm

        As I point out in another comment (see below) the “Fire!” and slander arguments are fallacious. If you shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater to cause panic and injury, you are not exercising a right, you are committing a crime. (Likewise if you spread untruths about someone in order to damage him or her.) No innocent party is ever intentionally harmed by the exercise of a right. Rights are self-limiting. So long as what you’re doing doesn’t intentionally (or negligently) injure an innocent person (this includes injury to their property and other rights), you have a right to do that thing. As soon as you’re talking about acts that intentionally injure an innocent party, you’re no longer talking about rights, you’re talking about CRIMES. Don’t conflate the two, and don’t let others do so either.

    • Russ March 23, 2015, 6:05 pm

      The real question should be;
      Since no organization in the World knows more about firearms function, history and safety than the NRA.
      Why don’t we make them an agency that regulates all laws concerning firearms, here in the United States.
      We shouldn’t bicker back and forth about who’s right or wrong, and let competent experts make those decisions.
      Serious issues shouldn’t be decided by certain misinformed, agenda driven peoples.

    • Huckleberry Muckleroy March 23, 2015, 11:06 pm

      The first two paragraphs are so wrong. There are rational limitations to all of our Rights. If you do not understand that, then you are not smart enough to own a gun.

    • tommy wright March 23, 2015, 11:08 pm

      Absolutely not. I have the God given right to protect my family. I am prepared to do so and will defend that right until my last breath.

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