A Quick and Dirty Guide to Constitutional Carry

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Constitutional Carry

Even outside of CCW or Second Amendment circles, constitutional carry is making headlines right now—and ruffling more than a few feathers as a result. There’s a lot of media hype around the issue, and a great many talking heads and pundits tossing quips back and forth. But getting down to brass tacks, what is constitutional carry really and what does it mean for the CCW community as a whole?

The term “constitutional carry” is a relatively new addition to the language, describing a legal condition in which law abiding citizens may carry a concealed handgun without a permit. The “constitutional” part comes from the assumption that the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms covers concealed carry as well, and thus no permit should be required. Currently a dozen states allow constitutional carry, with New Hampshire the most recent.

The movement toward constitutional carry continues to grow. More states are slated to consider reforming their laws in the direction of constitutional carry this year, including Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah. In addition, there’s been talk of a nationwide concealed carry reciprocity act, which may complicated the landscape depending on how it is implemented and interpreted.

So, is constitutional carry a good idea? I certainly think so—it’s hard to justify a permitting process involving a stack of paperwork and fees in order to exercise one’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms or one’s natural right to self-defense. Criminals by definition are not constrained by the law, so the CCW process—which invariably includes background checks—wasn’t likely to deter them from carrying a firearm. Whereas a legal process, no matter how streamlined, may stand in the way of a law-abiding person’s ability to protect themselves.

Constitutional carry faces a lot of challenges, particularly due to our nation’s divided and embittered political environment in the wake of the 2016 election. While Second Amendment issues stayed out of the fray for the most part, political energy on both the state and federal level is concerned with other things at the moment, and constitutional carry may get lost in the shuffle in at least a few states. We shall have to wait and see.

So, ultimately what does this mean for those of us who either have CCW permits or are interested in getting them? I still think that for the moment getting or maintaining a permit is the best way to go, regardless of the status of constitutional carry in your state. The permit does give you an additional layer of legitimacy in the eyes of folks who may not fully understand the issue at hand, and a permit can offer vital legal protections while traveling. Even the most optimistic among us have to admit that we’re a long way from constitutional carry as a norm, and interstate travel is still best served by having a permit and staying abreast of local laws.  States without constitutional carry will still have reciprocity laws, so take advantage of those by having a current permit.

We’ll know more in the coming months, and I look forward to watching the continued growth of constitutional carry across the nation. If you’re living in a state that has constitutional carry now, please tell us how it’s going in the comment section below. Your story might motivate others to put pressure on their state reps to make constitutional carry a reality where they’re from.

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  • victor

    Constitutional carry is a bad idea. Although I believe that every person who can legally own a firearm should have the right to carry a firearm for personal protection and that a CCW permit should work your drivers license and should be honored in all 50 states. A person who either purchases or is given a firearm and just starts carrying it without and trying in its use or the laws as to when you can use deadly force is just a bad idea and will open us up to more problems. I teach CCW classes and have had people in my classes who want to carry a firearm because they are scared when too many people are around them and want to point the gun at them to scare them away. This type of behavior due to lack of training and education puts them and the public at risk.

    • syzito

      Remember Vermont? They have had constitution carry, concealed or open carry ever since the beginning of this nation 1776. They are listed by the FBI’s crime data as the safest State in the Union to live in. No blood baths running down the streets for over 200 years.

    • John H.

      Right victor because the states that already have constitutional carry have such huge problems already, right? Oh, wait. They don’t have such problems.

  • Erik Kjellquist

    I don’t have an issue with Constitutional Carry at least as far as removing unnecessary barriers to ownership and leaving it up to standard NICS checks for anyone 18+, but I do feel there needs to be a minimum training requirement that satisfies how firearms work, basic safety and legal issues for your state, and basic marksmanship that can be demonstrated to a LEO or training officer that signs off in an official capacity. Whether that’s the NRA Basic Pistol Course or equivalent should be fine.

    It’s irresponsible to expect people are going to safely drive a vehicle w/o being able to demonstrate comprehension and proficiency with the necessary skills, and we ought to expect the same for anyone who’s going to be able to carry a firearm in public. On the other hand, people who CAN show that basic proficiency ought to indeed be able to carry across state lines, just like driving a car, givwn that there may be some differentiation between states’ regulations that the driver is responsible for understanding.

    A lot of Con Carry states still utilize CCW permits, so w/o a permit you can carry in your state and WITH a permit you have reciprocity, but training standards ought to be nationally-recognized such that states who issue permits with or without enhancements can use the same sets of standards.

    Even if someone is fine just carrying in their home state via Con Carry, the public has an interest in assurance that that individual knows what they’re doing and can be held accountable, while that individual at the same time needs to be able to easily access training and permitting in a timely, inexpensive, reasonable way that protects 2A rights as well as public safety.

  • Some Rabbit

    For decades the Left has fed us the lie that if citizens were allowed to carry in public ‘Wild West’ mayhem would ensue. Now 48 states allow concealed carry and where is the predicted mayhem? In any crowd there is likely 2 or 3 people legally carrying concealed and probably 1 or 2 more who don’t give a damn what the law says. Guns are a reality that can not be legislated or wished away, so deal with it.

  • Reloader54

    I live in Arizona. And it is a Constitutional Carry State. And if you want to they will issue you a carry permit if you go through the business of taking a training course and fill out the paperwork, submit finger prints, go through the background check, and pay the fee. I did do all of it and I do have a carry permit even though I don’t need one to carry in Arizona. I go it so that when and if I traveled and wanted to take my gun for protection I could as long as I followed the gun laws for where I was going. But there are law abiding citizens that I know that do carry here that do not have a carry permit and that do have. And there’s been no real problems because of it. And I do hope that Constitutional Carry nation wide does become a real deal. And that it would be treated just like Driver’s License’s are treated now.

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  • wolaverjs

    The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 DOES NOT say you may carry without a permit. In fact it requires you to have a valid permit from any state which issues such a permit before you gain anything from it. All the laws of the several states still apply, meaning any restrictions still apply – in Illinois, for instance, you would still not be permitted to carry since they do not offer any handgun permit.

    “Why have the law then?” Good question. The main benefit of this law would be to simplify reciprocity (it’s in the title of the bill). Currently, Minnesota and Florida issue permits for concealed carry, but neither recognizes the other’s permits as valid. This law would change that. It says that with a valid permit, you can carry in any other state or subdivision thereof which issues such permits. In Florida there is no open carry other than for hunting and fishing, Minnesota residents would still have to conceal their sidearm in Florida unless they were hunting or fishing.

    I, for one, agree with this limitation; the whole point of our federalist form of government is to allow the states to govern themselves and not be micromanaged by the fed. This law serves primarily to remove the reciprocity question in states where concealed carry is legal. There are also provisions about access to public spaces and provisions to protect carriers from abuse by local authorities.

    If your state allows you to carry without a permit, this law would not allow you to carry anywhere else because you don’t meets its most basic requirement: Have a valid permit from a state which issues such permits.

    • Keith A Milligan

      I would seriously advise you recheck what you know of the gun laws, specifically in reference to Illinois sir. Although it was the last state to finally offer it, Illinois most certainly does offer Concealed Carry License and has since 2013. Although different states fall under different discretions, such as shall issue, and may issue respectively; in fact all 50 states offer some form of concealed carry.

      • wolaverjs

        The point I made stands. The point, Sir, was that the proposed law does not usurp the rights of individual states to determine if concealed carry is permissible or what the details of concealed carry are within their borders.

        Your response does highlight just how easy it is to lose track of intricacies of over 50 sets of concealed carry laws. If this bill passes, individuals will still bear the responsibility of learning the laws of any place they intend to travel to before going there. When and if I ever decide to visit Illinois, I will be well versed on those laws, Sir.

        Seriously Keith, you got tangled up in a detail and missed the point. You are welcome to reread my original post if you like. If you do, try not to get tangled up in the detail and see if you get the overarching point.

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