Back in the day, when the Texas legislature was considering reforming the licensing system for concealed carry, a lot of politicians were caught unawares. They had no idea Texans needed a permit to carry a firearm. They assumed carrying a gun was a citizen’s birthright, which it is, protected by the U.S. Constitution, no less. And now . . .
Texas is moving in the direction of permitless or constitutional carry, looking to join Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho (residents only), Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming (residents only). There are a lot of good arguments for this trend. Here are the top three:
1. Look at Vermont!
The main argument against Constitutional Carry: it’s dangerous! If you let people carry a gun without a background check and training, they’ll shoot the wrong person! Cops won’t know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy! And there’ll be more people carrying, leading to more “gun violence.”
You could counter these objections one-by-one, but it’s better to just say “look at Vermont.” Green Mountain State residents have enjoyed constitutional carry since the Constitution was enacted. According to the FBI’s 2015 stats, Vermont is the safest state in the country, with a violent crime rate of 118 incidents per 100k residents.
That’s not to say Vermont is the safest state in the U.S. because of constitutional carry. But their crime rates show that constitutional carry doesn’t create crime. Why would it? Criminals get guns no matter what the law says (they’re criminals, after all). Constitutional carry makes it easier for law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Which leads us to . . .
2. Carry Permits Punish the Poor!
Some states make getting a permit to carry a firearm cheap and easy (e.g. Washington). Some states make it extremely expensive and time-consuming, to the point of impossibility (e.g. New Jersey, Hawaii).
Either way, society’s poorest members don’t have the time or money to jump through all the hoops needed to secure a permit to carry a firearm. What’s more, they lack the ability and/or desire to deal with the bureaucracy in charge of issuing licenses.
Constitutional carry makes it possible for all Americans to exercise their natural, civil and constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, regardless of their income or education. Speaking of which . . .
3. Carry Permits Are Unconstitutional!
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitutional states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Requiring Americans to petition the government to exercise their right to keep and bear arms is as clear an infringement as requiring Americans to pass a literacy test to exercise their right to vote. Clearer even.
What other constitutionally protected right do Americans have to pay to exercise? The right to free speech? The right to religious freedom? The people arguing against constitutional carry see the right to keep and bear arms as an exception. Because death! Which takes you back to argument number one: Vermont.
Or Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho (residents only), Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. And soon, New Hampshire. And one day, Texas.