At least nine states are considering bills this year that would eliminate license requirements to carry a concealed firearm. The policy, known in the pro-gun community as “constitutional carry,” generally allows anyone who can legally own a handgun to carry it concealed without training or background check requirements.
Right now, 17 states allow some form of constitutional carry, and the measure has good odds of success in Utah, Montana, and Tennessee. Legislators in Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Alabama and Georgia have also introduced bills allowing for permitless carry, according to Fox News.
Governors in Utah, Montana, and Tennessee have all agreed to sign the bill if passed by the legislature.
Newly-elected Utah Gov. Spencer Cox told local media earlier this year that he would support constitutional carry.
“I think there are now something like 17 states that have some sort of constitutional carry or permitless carry and so we would sign that bill,” he said.
During a debate in October, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte pledged to support constitutional carry, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee introduced the legislation himself in February of last year.
“The Second Amendment is clear and concise and secures the freedoms of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms,” he said in a press release at the time. “I am pleased to announce Constitutional Carry legislation today that will protect the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans, while also stiffening penalties on criminals who steal or illegally possess firearms.”
Despite support from governors, the passage of constitutional carry bills is anything but certain. Not all Republican lawmakers favor the idea, and a single committee chairman can often quash a piece of legislation before it ever reaches the house or senate floor.
In Texas’s last legislative session, for example, two key legislators killed a constitutional carry bill after a pro-gun activists showed up at their homes.
“If you want to talk about issues and you want to advocate, you do it in this building. You don’t do it at our residences,” Republican House Speaker Dennis Bonnen said at the time. “Threats and intimidation will never advance your issue. Their issue is dead.”
This year might be different. Rep. Bonnen has since resigned amidst scandal, and the state GOP has listed constitutional carry as one of only eight legislative priorities.
Montana also looks promising. Constitutional carry is permitted in over 99 percent of the state’s land mass, but permits are still required within town and city limits, where most residents live. In previous years, Democratic governors have vetoed constitutional carry when it passed the legislature by heavy margins. This year, after the recent installment of Republican Gov. Gianforte, the measure is expected to become law.