When Florida shifted from a “may-issue” to a “shall-issue” concealed-carry permitting process in the 1980s, the state unknowingly birthed a movement that swept the country. Not only did state after state adopt concealed carry, almost all eventually adopted a “shall-issue” permitting process. Today, every state has some sort of concealed carry, and very few of the states remain “may-issue.”
We saw the same thing happen with the Castle Doctrine and with "Stand Your Ground" laws. And now, Americans are watching as permitless carry gains momentum and becomes the law of the land in state after state after state.
The permitless-carry push is sometimes referred to as “constitutional carry,” because the philosophy behind it is that Americans ought not have to apply for and pay for a government-issued permit before exercising a right that is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Seen in this light, permitless carry is simply an outworking of four crucial words—“shall not be infringed.”
A total of 12 states recognize permitless carry as the law of the land, and one can best understand the momentum behind this by noting that there were only six states that recognized permitless carry on Jan. 1, 2016. In less than a year and half, six states added their names to the roster of states where the Second Amendment is your concealed-carry permit, and two others—Michigan and North Carolina—are weighing the same decision now.
The momentum that launched the permitless carry wave in 2016 actually began building in 2015, when pro-Second Amendment legislators in West Virginia passed permitless carry legislation that was vetoed by Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. The legislators pledged that they would bring it back with even more legislative support and pass it again in 2016. They did so, and Tomblin vetoed it again, but this time the legislators overrode his veto, thereby abolishing the requirement that residents of West Virginia get a government permit to carry a firearm for self-defense.
The addition of New Hampshire and North Dakota means permitless carry is now the law of the land in 12 states—and it could soon be 14.Idaho, Missouri and Mississippi also abolished their permit requirements in 2016, and suddenly one-fifth of the states recognized legal carry without a permit.
Then came 2017, and the wave continued. On Feb. 22, Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed legislation abolishing his state’s concealed- carry permit requirement, and on March 24 Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed legislation ridding his state of the requirement as well.
The addition of New Hampshire and North Dakota means permitless carry is now the law of the land in 12 states—and it could soon be 14, depending on the outcome of the current legislative debate in Michigan and North Carolina.
Besides the philosophical rationale for permitless carry—i.e., why should we have to get a permit to exercise a God-given right?—there are also some practical reasons behind the push to abolish permit requirements. One of those is the fact that in many states, open carry of handguns without a permit is completely legal, yet those states require a permit if you put on a jacket or a long shirt that hangs down and covers the gun.
In other words, you can walk into a fast-food restaurant with your Glock 19 holstered in plain sight, and it is not problem. But if you are on your way home from church and your suit coat covers the gun, you are violating the law, unless you get a government-issued carry permit.
This was the situation in New Hampshire and North Dakota, as it is in Michigan and North Carolina. The former two remedied the contradiction in carry laws by abolishing the requirement for a carry permit altogether, and the latter two are now considering the same action.
The second practical reason for permitless carry is that it correlates with lower handgun murder rates. For example, FBI crime reports for Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming show that handgun murders dropped in all three states after they abolished their requirements for a carry permit. This is certainly tough news for gun controllers to handle, as they constantly argue that permitless carry will lead to mayhem in the streets.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of “Bullets with AWR Hawkins,” a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter @AWRHawkins, or reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.