Should States Grant Permitless Concealed Carry?
Last year, the Washington Post ran an article reporting that an increasing number of states are now allowing their residents to carry concealed weapons without obtaining a license to do so.
States With Permitless Concealed Carry
According to WP at least 11 states now have laws permitting residents to carry a gun without a permit. A study by John Hopkins confirms that actually 12 states now allow permitless concealed carry. The National Conference of State Legislatures, in conjunction with the NRA, announced that an additional 16 states were set to initiate legislative actions last year (2017) to allow non-permitted concealed carry.
West Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Idaho all passed laws in 2016 that eliminate gun control laws requiring permits for concealed carry—allowing people in those states to carry concealed weapons legally without a permit.
New Hampshire passed legislation in 2017 allowing carrying of a concealed handgun without a permit.
Vermont, Maine, Kansas, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and North Dakota also do not require permits for the concealed carry of handguns.
Arkansas does not require a permit to carry a concealed gun, but the language of the relevant law has been found ambiguously limiting and in need of clarification.
Pending Legislation to Legalize Permitless Concealed Carry
Legislation to allow carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is now pending in some states, including Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, and Colorado.
Opposition to Permitless Concealed Carry Laws
The bills to relax concealed carry laws have raised controversy among politicians, members of law enforcement, and even proponents of gun rights. Some contend that enacting such gun legislation would be excessively permissive:
Law Enforcement More Difficult — Portsmouth Police Commissioner Joseph Plaia expressed his concern that the new legislation will prevent local law enforcement from being able to make determinations that can help dangerous people in their communities from having guns.
No Gun Safety Training or Mental Health Screening — Montana Governor, Steve Bullock has reportedly written that he will vigorously defend citizens' rights under the 2nd Amendment, but that he can't support a plan that would threaten community safety by failing to require gun safety training and mental health screening.
Unforeseen Consequences — Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota (lifetime NRA member), reportedly wrote in a Rapid City Journal op-ed, that permitless concealed carry is not good legislation and that it could lead to many unexpected consequences.
The risk to Residents and Public Officials — In Missouri, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay expressed concerns about the reduced safety of the city's police chief and neighborhoods and that permitless concealed carry would increase difficulties for police trying to do their jobs.
Support for Permitless Concealed Carry Laws
Advocates for gun rights argue that proposed gun laws allowing concealed carry without a permit are the next advancement of constitutional rights under the Second Amendment. They have offered points from top decision-makers favoring the legislative change:
More Freely Practical Protection — Missouri State Senator Brian Munzlinger, who sponsored the bill, reportedly explained that the intent of the bill is to allow law-abiding citizens the ability to protect their families and themselves.
Avoid Doubling Permits — New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, asserted that his state has historically allowed carrying a pistol out in the open. He says he doesn't understand why law-abiding citizens who are legally entitled to own a gun should be required to get an additional permit to carry it concealed.
Consistency With Neighboring State Laws — New Hampshire state senate majority leader, Jeb Bradley reportedly pointed out that passing the new bill puts New Hampshire on the same footing with the adjacent states of Maine and Vermont, which don't require permits for carrying a concealed handgun.
Trends in Permitless Concealed Carry Laws
Points about potential impacts to safety for residents of high-crime urban areas, such as north St. Louis, and safety of public officials are well taken. Worries about diminished commitment to gun safety training and to screening for mental illness are fundamental issues in this gun rights debate. Warnings about unforeseen consequences can also apply to future scenarios in which unpermitted concealed carry is either allowed or disallowed which is arguably less helpful in the debate.
Allowing less legally encumbered freedom of protection of self and family must take high priority, of course. But, a point that is potentially as likely as any other to drive legislative changes in additional states is the one about keeping one's state on a footing with its neighboring states.
That is a governing principle that has generally served states well on myriad operational fronts. So, perhaps that motivation will contribute to a growing trend across state governments' in the permit issue. At least it appears to have been an influence in New Hampshire's choice to adopt its neighbors' common no-permit policy, thereby creating a three-state region where permitless concealed carry is the law.
Concealed Coalition provides relevant information to benefit concealed carry permit holders in the U.S. and people who are interested concealed carry.