What is Constitutional Carry?
In the simplest terms, constitutional carry is the right to bear arms, concealed or not, without any restrictions from the federal government. There are other terms for this policy, including permitless carry, unrestricted carry, and Vermont carry, so named for the state that never restricted its adult residents from carrying a firearm.
In states with constitutional carry policies, you do not have to go through specific licensing or training programs to carry a weapon.
For gun enthusiasts, firearm regulation rollbacks mean that it has never been easier to bear arms, in most states, as it is right now. As with all political policies, constitutional carry policies and restriction rollbacks have their bitter enemies.
Here are some more details about constitutional carry and how different people interpret it.
The Right To Bear Arms
The constitutional carry debate stems from, you guessed it, the United States Constitution. Two centuries ago, the founding fathers wrote the Constitution's Second Amendment. Specifically, the amendment details that the United States will not abide restrictions on citizens' right to own and carry firearms.
Gun-advocates who support constitutional carry believe the Constitution protects each citizen’s right to bear arms. Any licensing or training program, or any constraints a state puts on a person's ability to carry a firearm, is unconstitutional.
These advocates believe that reinstating citizens' right to carry a firearm without federal or state regulation is a restoration, not an expansion, of their constitutional rights.
The Court Case That Changed It All
Before 2010, the non-gun-toting mainstream public had probably never heard of the term constitutional carry. It quickly became a catch-phrase for the gun-rights movement when Arizona became the latest state to roll back its firearm restrictions.
Before Arizona adopted constitutional carry, the seminal court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, made a big splash in 2008.
In this case, a licensed special police officer, Dick Heller, sued Washington, D.C., for restricting his ability to carry a firearm in his home, even though he used one regularly on the job.
The Supreme Court decided that the Second Amendment pertained to every individual's right to bear arms and that the Second Amendment was not solely directed at private militias. Through this interpretation, people can carry handguns for lawful purposes, including self-defense and property protection, on their property.
The Court did not rule whether this right to bear arms is applicable outside of your personal property. Consequently, the idea of constitutional carry became a major flashpoint for gun advocates and anti-gun supporters alike.
In McDonald vs. City of Chicago in 2010, the Supreme Court, with the theory of incorporation, found the Second Amendment to apply to the states. This settled some of the gray area created by the previous landmark gun case and McDonald vs. City of Chicago is arguably the most important case in protecting our Second Amendment rights.
Each State Has Its Ruling
Since 1987, every state has enacted legislation about allowing its residents to carry firearms without a permit. Most states require residents who want to carry concealed weapons to obtain a license and provide proof of hands-on training time.
Gun lobbyists have been pushing to weaken many of these restrictions, paving the way for permitless carry. With the reduced legislative infrastructure, citizens remain immune to litigation stemming from the display or use of firearms.
Where is Constitutional Carry Legal?
For a large part of this country's history, there wasn't a single state that officially recognized citizens' rights to carry a firearm without a permit. Of course, this is because gun legislation didn’t appear until recent history. The federal government passed the first national gun law in 1934.
As of November 2019, the states that allow permitless carry by adult residents not otherwise restricted from carrying firearms are:
States that allow residents to carry firearms without a specific permit are:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Wyoming and North Dakota allow only their residents to carry, and in North Dakota, residents are only permitted concealed carry.
Who is for Constitutional Carry?
When the Heller case came into the national spotlight in 2008, other debates were actively raging in the political arena. Obamacare was still a hot ticket item on the agenda, and members of the Tea Party movement found their rallying cry under the banner of constitutional carry.
The push to roll back carry restrictions comes from grassroots gun advocates on a state level, and these organizations move faster and more agilely than the NRA.
National organizations, like Gun Owners of America and the National Association of Gun Rights, have banded with the smaller state-level groups to harness their power and bring constitutional carry to states across the nation.
Who is Against it?
Gun-control, politicians in states with strict gun regulations, and others are fighting against weakening regulations they see as important to public safety.
Many hope that the Trump Administration will continue to roll back regulations involving firearms so residents can carry concealed weapons in states outside their state of residence.
A bill that would allow citizens a nationwide right to carry weapons regardless of their state of residence just passed the House of Representatives. The Senate is considering it now. This bill would mean it would no longer be up to individual states to exact strict or lax gun laws; it would be a federal decision.
The Final Word
The citizenry of the United States is fiercely independent, and most balk at anything that hints at impinging on their constitutional rights. For gun advocates who support constitutional carry, reinstatement of the freedom to bear arms is not an augmentation of the Second Amendment; it is a restoration of a tenet granted by the founding fathers.
At We the People Holsters, we supply you with everything you need to safely and responsibly carry your small arms, just as the founding fathers intended.