The Right-to-Carry revolution continues to sweep across the country. With Gov. Doug Burgum’s signing of HB 1169 last week, North Dakota became the latest state to adopt a “permitless”/constitutional carry law. New Hampshire passed its own “permitless” carry law earlier this year, while other states like South Carolina are still considering similar legislation. (South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed a constitutional carry bill passed by the legislature earlier this month.) There are now more states that have constitutional carry laws than there are states with restrictive “may-issue” policies for carrying firearms. In other words, more state laws look like New Hampshire’s than New Jersey’s, and that’s a very good thing.
Judges have been considering the right to bear arms in courtrooms across the country, and a few of them have come up with some pretty extraordinary interpretations of the Second Amendment to justify restrictive gun control regimes. Many of them try to seize upon Antonin Scalia’s comment in Heller that not all gun control laws would be found to be unconstitutional as evidence that governments should have broad leeway in passing laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of their constituents. Others claim that as firearms have changed over the years, the meaning of the Second Amendment must have changed as well. Because the Founding Fathers never could have envisioned semi-automatic rifles, or multi-shot pistols, laws banning rifles and restricting the carrying of firearms are therefore fine and dandy. But few courts have considered what states around the country have actually been doing for the past few decades.More state laws look like New Hampshire’s than New Jersey’s, and that’s a very good thing.
In 1987, there were only nine states that were “shall-issue” in regards to concealed-carry licenses, and only Vermont expressly allowed carry without a permit. Twenty-four states authorized broad discretion in terms of who could carry, and 16 didn’t allow any concealed carry at all. Just 30 years later, there are no states left with complete bans on carrying firearms. Twenty-nine states now have “shall-issue” laws, 13 now have “permitless” carry, and only eight (nine, if you include Washington, D.C.) still have the “may-issue” laws on the books. Constitutional carry isn’t clustered in just one region of the country, either. In the northwest, Idaho adopted its “permitless” carry law in 2016; in the southeast, Mississippi did the same; while in the mid-Atlantic, West Virginia also adopted constitutional carry. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed constitutional carry into law in 2010, and Maine and New Hampshire recently joined Vermont in becoming “permitless” carry states. This is a broad movement, but good luck getting many judges on the 4th or 9th Circuits to notice.This is a broad movement, but good luck getting many judges on the 4th or 9th Circuits to notice.
Even if you view the Constitution as a “living” document, changing with the times without any need to actually amend it, it’s pretty clear that this country supports the individual right to keep and bear arms as much or more than we did at the time of the nation’s founding. Yes, there are a handful of states where anti-gun attitudes dominate legislatures and the public square, but the momentum is on the side of the Second Amendment. While dozens of states have adopted “shall-issue” or constitutional carry measures over the past three decades, not one state has reversed course. No state has instituted a ban on the carrying of firearms, or even switched from a “shall-issue” to a “may-issue” law. The country has been moving in one direction when it comes to the right to carry, and it’s in the direction of a full recognition of our Second Amendment rights.
Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.