It’s incredible to think that just a few decades ago only one state allowed concealed carry without a permit. Since then, immense progress has been made to get bureaucrats out of the way of our Second Amendment right to carry concealed for self-defense. Now half of the states have some form of constitutional carry.
Four states passed some form of constitutional carry this year alone—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio. This is in large part thanks to the tireless work of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) and the millions of NRA members who made their voices heard in legislatures throughout the country.
“This is a monumental moment for the Second Amendment, NRA members and gun owners nationwide,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet. “Half the country now rightfully recognizes the fundamental right to carry a firearm for self-defense as enshrined in our Constitution, as opposed to a government privilege that citizens must ask permission to exercise. Passing this essential legislation has been a priority for the NRA for many years, and we’re thrilled to celebrate this huge success.”
This year’s incredible success builds upon that of 2021, when five states signed into law some form of constitutional carry. Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and Utah all became constitutional-carry states last year, so in just two short years, nine states have gotten out of the way of this freedom.
This continued progress comes as crime has been spiking in cities across the country and during a time when firearms sales have been breaking records. It is clear that Americans are grasping the importance of their Second Amendment rights and fighting for them.
And this trend shows no signs of stopping. Several other states, such as Pennsylvania and Louisiana, have also advanced forms of constitutional-carry legislation in recent history, but were stopped by anti-Second Amendment governors. However, this is not a total loss.
“It’s certainly still a victory, because, as we know, these are long-term things. A lot of positives come from this. Mainly, we have worked out the language of the bill, we understand where people had concerns, and we addressed them so that once Pennsylvania has a pro-Second Amendment governor, then we have everything ironed out,” said Darin Goens, NRA-ILA Pennsylvania state director.
Indeed, these battles for freedom are always ongoing. For this reason, it is important to look at constitutional carry’s history—as well as the broader history of concealed carry—to see how much progress has been made.
Just over three decades ago, Vermont was the only state that didn’t insert itself between law-abiding citizens and their right to bear arms. In addition, only eight states had “shall-issue” permitting processes, meaning that licensing authorities must issue a concealed-carry permit to any citizen who is not prohibited by law from exercising their Second Amendment rights. At that time, 26 states had “may-issue” licensing schemes in which the licensing authorities could determine who may or may not exercise their Second Amendment rights according some arbitrary list of criteria. Worse than that, 16 states refused to issue permits at all at that time.
Today, along with the immense expansion of constitutional carry, more than 40 states have “shall-issue” permitting processes and just eight are “may-issue” states. Most importantly, no state outright prohibits the carrying of a concealed firearm entirely. It should also be noted that constitutional carry does not affect previously issued concealed-carry permits for those who still wish to obtain them in order to carry in non-constitutional-carry states that recognize those permits. Constitutional carry also does not allow anyone legally barred from owning a firearm to possess or carry one, though that is just what those who oppose constitutional carry want you to believe.
“The NRA paved the way for constitutional carry by first leading the charge for right-to-carry nearly 40 years ago. Today, every state, and the District of Columbia, provides for the carrying of a firearm for self-defense outside the home in some form, and half the nation recognizes the Second Amendment protects law-abiding citizens’ right to self-defense as an inherent and inalienable right. NRA members have led this extraordinary brick-by-brick effort in building and expanding America’s self-defense laws and we are not done,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
The positive effects of constitutional carry are also backed by extensive amounts of research. According to data compiled by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), “Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of firearms-related violations at one-twelfth of the rate at which police officers are convicted.”
Over 21 million Americans now carry concealed, according to CPRC data, a number that has likely grown since it was reported, thanks to the recent passages of constitutional-carry legislation. And this rising tide of the expanding right to self-defense could see even greater gains through NRA-backed litigation once the U.S. Supreme Court renders a decision on the pivotal New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case. The results of this monumental case may well further reshape the future of concealed carry throughout the country as it challenges New York’s “may-issue” regime.
Regardless of the outcome in that case, half of the country’s legislatures have now gotten out of the way of law-abiding Americans’ ability to exercise this critical constitutional right.
There is, however, still much work that needs to be done to continue advancing our Second Amendment freedoms. To get involved in your state and make your voice heard, get in touch with NRA Grassroots (nraila.org/grassroots) and take action to defend and expand freedom.