Constitutional Carry On The March

19 US States now support Constitutional Carry. Who's next?

On Friday, April 2nd 2021, Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed into law House File 756, which did away with the pistol permit purchase scheme and carry permit system in the State of Iowa. Now, as long as they aren’t prohibited by federal law to possess a firearm, Iowans can carry and acquire most firearms with no more trouble than the federal government requires. Constitutional Carry has come to the Great State Of Iowa.

Iowa joins 18 other states in the Union who now have Constitutional Carry laws on the books. What was once called “Vermont Carry” because Vermont was the only state that supported it, is now the standard in over a third of the country.

But, what is Constitutional Carry, really?

In a nutshell, Constitutional Carry is a term that is applied to states or jurisdictions where no permit is required to carry a firearm on one’s person. In a broader sense it also means there’s no gun control beyond what the federal government requires.

As I mentioned, it was called “Vermont Carry” for the longest time, since Vermont has never had any real gun control laws beyond the federal standards (until recently - as a move to satisfy Massholes, Vermont enacted a magazine restriction in 2018…) and had never required it’s residents to obtain carry or purchase permits for most handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

Brownells

Sure, by the book, the only “carry permit” we really need is the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution - the right to keep and bear, but as we all know, that right has been needlessly restricted and checked, always for spurious and racially-motivated reasons. However, as I mentioned in the latest episode of my podcast, the irony is that now the states, who really have no specific business regulating firearms to begin with, are seemingly making moves towards restoring the right to keep and bear arms within their borders. While the spectre of gun control looms at the federal level, gun rights are being promoted and embraced at the state level, in an odd reversal of the usual trend. To understand what Constitutional Carry is about, we should take a look at the history of the right to carry firearms in the United States.

The History Of Constitutional Carry

Our nation, founded and established via the direct methods of armed revolt, recognized the right to keep and bear arms in it’s founding documents. Historical summaries once taught in schools around the country depict steadfast Minutemen, hardy settlers, and industrious townsfolk, all armed to one degree or another. Fresh out of a fight for independence, the people of the United States of America were ready for the next fight. The Founding Fathers didn’t come back from a hunting trip (well, they were hunting Englishmen and other assorted Eurotrash, to be honest…), as the meme says.

But, the legends don’t always depict the nuances of history, of course. Out of the gate, there were forms of gun control and restrictions on carry in the United States. If you were a slave, Native, or even a free black person - the Second Amendment didn’t apply to you. The revolutionaries didn’t want a slave revolt on their hands, basically.

As time went on, states and counties enacted gun control laws - some outwardly racist, others less obviously so. After the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, the tone and methods shifted from outward bans on certain people carrying to more subtle schemes, usually in the form of costly permits and yes, outright bans on carry. However, most of the laws weren’t intended to be enforced on white people, so not much of a ruckus was made.

Gun Control’s Racism Extended Beyond the Civil War

Even when the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s bought the black tradition of being armed to the forefront, the permit schemes and carry restrictions at the state level were still the norm, although they were enforced more broadly to appear “fair”. In a strange irony, only (in the modern sense) liberal and loony Vermont had no restrictions on the purchase and carry of weapons - again the Vermonsters only had to abide by federal laws.

Up until the 1980s, the national “standard” for carry was “may-issue”, which is to say state and local officials could choose to approve or deny your carry and/or purchase permits for arbitrary reasons, or no reason at all. It was a convenient dodge, and allowed the Jim Crow-era attitudes towards firearms to continue on, just waving false flags of “safety” and “for the children.” Poor black guy looking to buy and carry a Smith & Wesson for defense? Tough. Random white dude who’s pals with the Sherriff and smokes crack with him on the weekends? Here’s your gun permit, good sir and would you like one for your kid?

Even more distressing, several states were effectively “no-issue”. Carry permits weren’t issued except for retired government agents, private security guards, and the well-connected pals of politicians. Think New York City today. Even Texas, the stereotypical “home” of gun culture here in the US, was no-issue for carry permits until 1995.

FN 509

Florida Goes Gunshine State And Kicks Off Widespread Shall-Issue

Though the national standard up until the late 1980s was may-issue - a few low-population states such as the Dakotas and Maine were shall-issue, meaning that if you met a set of criteria, usually something along the lines of having a clean criminal record, being over 18 or 21, and satisfying a training requirement, a carry permit would be issued, often for a small fee. You didn’t have to a favored political donor or a hanger-on of the local constabulary - if you met the objective criteria, you’d get your magic carry permit, and you’d be good to go.

However, shall-issue was something only really rural states did. The tide began to turn in the mid-1980s when Florida started to explore the premise of shall-issue within the borders of the state. Spurred on by the actions of the formidable Marion Hammer, the proverbial grandmother of the modern gun rights movement, the Florida government enacted a shall-issue permit scheme statewide in 1987. Doing away with county-level may-issue, where permits could cost upwards of $400 in urban areas such as Miami, the “Gunshine State“ established the modern shall-issue standard, with Ms Hammer herself getting Concealed Weapon and Firearm License #1. To this day, Marion Hammer fights the good fight with us Second Amendment Radicals here in Florida.

By the early 21st century, shall-issue had become the norm in the United States, along with robust reciprocity schemes between states embracing the concept.

Then, in 2003, Alaska decided to make the next move…

Constitutional Carry Rises In The US

From 1776 until 2003, Vermont was the only state in the Union which had no laws governing the carry and purchase of firearms, beyond what the federal government demanded. In the modern era, if you passed the federal background check, you could purchase a GLOCK pistol in a gun shop in Burlington, and carry it, openly or concealed, without any extra paperwork or proof of training. The onus was on the guys in Car Ramrod to prove you were a prohibited person. Your affirmative defense was “You got the radio man, look it up - I’ll be at the Phish concert if you need me…”

Or something like that.

In 2003, Alaska quietly embraced Constitutional Carry as well. With little opposition since it made so much practical sense, Alaskans could legally carry whatever firearms they felt like, openly or concealed, without troubling the government to ask for permission to exercise their natural rights. I have a sneaking suspicion that Alaskans carried what they wanted anyway, for the most part - all the law did was make it legal. The bear attacking you isn’t going to care if you have a permit or not for that 10mm hand cannon. Sidebar - a 9mm defensive round will just piss a bear off.

The real push began in 2010, when Arizona, to much controversy, did away with the requirement to have a license to carry. And then it was off to the races, with now in 2021, 19 states, and 3 or 4 pending, making grand strides to recognizing our right to keep and bear arms.

That being said, Constitutional Carry isn’t necessarily carte blanche for gun owners.

Constitutional Carry Doesn’t Nullify All Gun Control

Unfortunately, Constitutional Carry isn’t a codification of Second Amendment Sanctuary status on a given jurisdiction. In a strange twist of irony, separate laws usually need to be passed for sanctuary status to be recognized. As much as I despise excess laws and lawmaking, I fully support sanctuary and Constitutional Carry laws as a means to an end.

Anyways - as it stands right now, Constitutional Carry doesn’t mean you can build a machine pistol out of a GLOCK 19 host, drop it into a quality holster, and waltz into a bar while openly carrying your bullet sprayer. Typically in most Constitutional Carry jurisdictions, gun-free zones are still a thing, even in public places, and of course private property owners can endorse or restrict the carrying of weapons on their premises. They can also make you wear a mask or take your shoes off, by the way. Their land, their rules. There’s also usually rules concerning the carry of a weapon on school property as well.

And yes, things like the National Firearms Act still apply, and you can’t be a convicted felon and legally carry unless you’ve had your rights restored via court order. Constitutional Carry only addresses the carry and purchase of weapons within the state in question. Federal laws still apply.

You May Still Want A Carry Permit Anyway

In most Constitutional Carry states, the permit system wasn’t done away with - only the requirement to have a permit to carry was rendered null and void. The permit system remains, usually to issue permits to non-residents, as well as for residents who wish to travel with their firearms, and perhaps carry them in a mere shall-issue state. For example, Arizona is a Constitutional Carry state. As we covered in a previous article, many states enjoy carry reciprocity with other states - including Arizona and Florida. Now, Arizona’s Constitutional Carry law doesn’t extend to Florida. You’ll still need a permit to carry in Florida. At that point, you have 2 options. One, get a Florida non-resident permit, or two, get an Arizona carry permit, even though you don’t need one in Arizona anymore. It kind of stinks, but having the magic card gives you a lot more flexibility, especially for out-of-state travel.

Also, there’s some other salient points, again like in Arizona where a person without a permit cannot legally carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol, whereas a permitted person can, provided he or she doesn’t drink of course.

Worth noting as well is that often, Constitutional Carry doesn’t lawfully allow carry in the “school zones”, which can often extend 1000 feet from school property - whereas a carry permit can “cover you” in the school zone.

Or take Missouri - while the Show-Me State doesn’t restrict open carry at the state level, local governments can restrict open carry. However, having a Missouri carry permit nullifies local open carry restrictions.

Note - with regards to the finer points of Constitutional Carry in a given jurisdiction, check out handgunlaw.us - it’s awesome.

You’ll Still Want To Train

Constitutional Carry, even with the “asterisks” concerning reciprocity and open/concealed carry, is great. Beyond the federal laws, you’re pretty much good to carry whatever and however (properly holstered, please!) you want. In theory, you can buy a gun a retail today, having never touched a gun in your life, load it up, and walk out the door with it strapped to your hip. Dumb? Very much so. But rights don’t only apply to smart folk like you and me, they apply to idiots as well. The price of freedom is that it applies to people we don’t like, and idiots as well - whether we like it or not. Provided the idiot is just being a passive idiot, of course - i.e. not swinging his Hi-Point around and blasting away at random.

Anyway - Constitutional Carry, by it’s very nature, does away with the training requirements that most carry laws included. To be fair and blunt, most training requirement for citizen carry were pointless and/or petty - even with the training clauses in the laws, the trend was to promote further training beyond that. Punching holes in paper at 7 yards is nice, but it doesn’t teach you much if that’s all you do.

Not to sound like your parents or Peter Parker’s uncle, with rights come responsibilities. If you’re blessed to live in a Constitutional Carry state - set the tone and the standard. We police ourselves. We don’t want the government barging in and doing what it does best, ruin things and sucking the fun out of life.

Train, and train some more. Yeah, ammo is expensive in this crazy year of 2021, but dry fire practice is a thing, and you can do a lot of drills with even just 50 rounds of your favored caliber, which should start with a 9 or a 4 for pistols, to be honest. Set the example of being a star Second Amendment Radical. Show the world that Constitutional Carry is the way to go.

Constitutional Carry Is A Positive Trend

The opposition loves to point out the the purported “racism” in cultural institutions. Whether’s a cartoon mouse running around like a madman, the name of a sports team, or the word “evergreen”, they see racism everywhere - except for themselves, it seems. However, they tend to ignore one huge touchstone of actual racism - gun control. Those laws weren’t passed by well-meaning busybodies, they were drafted and passed by crypto-Klansmen and their assorted hangers-on of whichever group the Moms Demand terrorists are simping for and screwing over this week.

As Maj Toure says - “All Gun Control Is Racist”. If you’re on the fence about guns, or even if you own a gun and have a little trepidation about Constitutional Carry, look at it this way - Constitutional Carry, in one fell swoop, shakes out one of the last vestiges of legislated racism in this nation.

Not racist? Awesome - now prove it. Support and promote the Second Amendment and Constitutional Carry.

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