For many years, our right to keep and bear arms has made steady progress at the state level. While some outlier states—like California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—continue to struggle under the control of anti-gun extremist politicians and bureaucrats, many states have abandoned imposing a draconian gun-control agenda on law-abiding gun owners, and the push to expand the Second Amendment has flourished in those states’ capitals.
This is especially true when it comes to one of the key reasons our Founders included the Second Amendment to our Constitution: The right to self-defense.
We’ve seen a number of improvements in the area of self-defense laws over recent years, such as getting rid of confusing, life-endangering restrictions that attempt to dictate when a firearm may be lawfully used for defensive purposes against violent criminals. We’ve also seen many states remove some of the restrictions on where law-abiding citizens may carry firearms.
But the culmination of our efforts to expand the right to self-defense with a lawfully possessed firearm has been the push for Constitutional Carry; sometimes referred to as permitless carry. Constitutional Carry, of course, allows for law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm for personal protection without first seeking permission from the government.
2021 Sets the Mark
As we’ve previously reported, 2021 was a banner year for Constitutional Carry. We saw five states enact laws that removed the requirement that law-abiding gun owners first acquire a permit before they may lawfully carry a firearm in defense of themselves or their loved ones. Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and Utah all joined the Constitutional Carry Club, bringing membership to 21. And while getting to nearly half the states is impressive enough, it is even more impressive considering that the Club consisted of only one member—Vermont—until as recently as 2003, when Alaska became the second member and the first state to enact a law removing the permit requirement.
Furthermore, let’s not overlook the fact that two additional states—Louisiana and Pennsylvania—put Constitutional Carry bills on their respective governors’ desks last year. Sadly, their governors John Bel Edwards (D-La.) and Tom Wolf (D-Penn.) decided they did not trust law-abiding gun owners and vetoed their bills.
What We May See in 2022
A number of states could see significant action on Constitutional Carry this year, and we will do everything possible to ensure we add to the list of 21 states that have embraced the original intent of the Second Amendment by removing the government “permission slip” for carrying a firearm for self-defense.
Ohio seems the most poised to take the final critical steps to enact Constitutional Carry. The Ohio House of Representatives and Senate each passed their own versions last year, so now it is a matter of working with our allies in each chamber to get one of the bills to the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine (R). While Gov. DeWine has not taken an official position on the legislation as we go to press, he has signed a number of pro-gun reforms while he has been at the helm in Ohio.
In Georgia, on the other hand, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has made his support for Constitutional Carry very clear, making it one of his top legislative goals for this year. At a Jan. 5 event, Kemp announced that he will work with Georgia legislators to pass a bill, with the hope to get it done by the Spring. With the support of the governor and pro-gun leadership in the Georgia House of Representatives and state Senate, things look very promising for Constitutional Carry in the Peach State.
Indiana could also see progress on Constitutional Carry legislation. Last year, the Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill, but it was never taken up by the state’s Senate. This year, both chambers may be ready to take up this critical reform.
Other states could emerge as potential new club members for 2022. With publication deadlines being what they are, there could be any number of states breaking ground on Constitutional Carry legislation by the time you read this. That’s why it is critical that you not only keep reading these pages for legislative updates, but that you get involved—or stay involved—with volunteer programs and activities coordinated through the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division.
Just go to NRAILA.org/grassroots, or call 1-800-392-8683, and find out what you can do to help advance critical pro-Second Amendment reforms like Constitutional Carry. How involved you are willing to get is entirely up to you.
Our goal is to ensure all law-abiding gun owners can freely exercise their right to self-defense with as little government intrusion into their lives as possible. We look forward to working with you to achieve that goal.