Last night’s passage of a constitutional carry bill by the Texas Senate has Texans all aflutter. There’s still much to be done before it becomes law and we’re hearing that the bill’s fate is still very much in doubt due to some legislative chicanery, but let’s be optimistic and assume Texas will soon become the biggest state in the nation to adopt permitless carry.
The Lone Star State would make a total of 21 constitutional carry states. Four states — Utah, Montana, Iowa and Tennessee — have jointed the club just this year and there are still more bills working their way through the legislative pipelines in other states.
If you live in a state that doesn’t require a permission slip in order to legally carry a handgun, that’s a very good thing. Government shouldn’t be allowed to erect hurdles or charge you in order to exercise any enumerated civil right.
That said, there are still some very good reasons to navigate the official process and get yourself a concealed carry permit. Those reasons include . . .
Do you travel? Do you live near the border of your state? Even if you rarely leave home and only visit other states on your annual family vacation or for the occasional business trip, you still want to have the ability to legally carry a firearm wherever you go.
Concealed carry reciprocity laws — laws that recognize other states’ carry permits as valid — typically only apply to licensed carriers.
For instance, Missouri is a constitutional carry state. If you hold a Missouri carry permit and travel to Florida, you’re good to go when you’re there. Not so if you legally carry in the Show Me state, but do it without a state-issued permit. If you’re caught while packing on the sugar-white sands of the Redneck Riviera without a valid carry permit from your home state, you’ll find yourself in deep seaweed.
Just about every state maintains a list of other states that recognize its permits (here’s Missouri’s for instance). Be sure to check your state’s site and confirm that your permit will be recognized and legal wherever you intend to carry your firearm, and do it before you go.
Learn Concealed Carry Basics
While the curriculum taught in the various states’ concealed carry certification classes varies widely, most at least do a decent job of imparting the basics of safe gun handling as well as covering that state’s laws governing where concealed carry is permitted…and where it isn’t. That’s important information to have if you want to avoid a ticket, a misdemeanor, or even a felony charge (depending on the state and the location) by carrying where it’s prohibited.
For the most part, you’re not going to get much actual training in self-defense from a few hours spent in a concealed carry certification class, but instructors will usually cover some important fundamentals such as when it’s permissible — in a legal sense — to use your firearm in a self-defense situation.
These classes also give those new to gun ownership an opportunity to talk to other gun owners and ask the instructor questions about how to carry, quirks of local laws, or any other topic they might be confused about.
Permit Holder Benefits
In some states, having a concealed carry permit can save you a lot of time…mostly when you’re buying a firearm. Nearly 20 states such as Texas, Wyoming, West Virginia and more exempt concealed weapons permit holders from having to undergo a NICS background check every time they purchase a new gun.
See the ATF’s list of state exemptions here. If you buy many guns at all, having a permit for this reason alone is worth it.
Talk to some cops and you’ll find out that a significant number of them have a very positive attitude toward concealed carry permit holders. As a group, permit holders are among society’s most law-abiding individuals and LEOs know it.
If you’re the subject of a traffic stop or other interaction with a police officer, showing him or her your permit can frequently result in a smoother process…and has even been known to occasionally get you off with a warning rather than a speeding ticket.
Increasing the number of permit holders has another salutary effect, too. As the number of licensed concealed carriers grows, the more politicians become aware of the prevalence of gun ownership and daily carry amongst the general population. That could have marginal beneficial effects on the number and kinds of gun control laws that are supported and voted on. At least that’s the hope.
Constitutional carry is certainly a good thing. Despite the nonsensical arguments in opposition and hysterical predictions of rampant, bloody shootouts that always get lots of media play while the laws are being considered, the more restrictions on the right to keeping and bearing arms are reduced, the greater the net benefits to society.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good reasons to have your own permit, not to mention legal defense coverage (however you choose to carry) if — heaven forbid — you should ever have to actually use your gun in a self-defense situation.