Update: The Move Toward Constitutional Carry

Update: The Move Toward Constitutional Carry
Bills in state legislatures as well as in Congress are paving the way toward legalizing the carrying of a gun without a permit.web photo

While those opposed to gun rights have had their victories over the past month—the ruling from the Fourth Circuit appeals court about ARs, and the gun permit fee hike in Connecticut—are two recent examples, concealed carry has won a few fresh victories.

In South Dakota, lawmakers advanced a bill on Thursday that would eliminate penalties for carrying a concealed pistol in the state for those who would currently be eligible for concealed carry permits, effectively instituting constitutional carry, according to this story from argusleader.com.

"Let's stop making law-abiding people criminals by the simple act of putting a jacket on," said Rep. Lynne DiSanto (R-Rapid City) in the story, referring to the fact that open carry is allowed without a permit in South Dakota, but if you were to conceal the same firearm with a jacket, it becomes a crime without a permit.

DiSanto also pointed out that gun buyers would still have to undergo a NICS check at the point of sale and that there are at least 12 states that currently have permitless carry, and that the impact has been minimal.

"The bad guy is going to have a gun no matter what," said South Dakota House Majority Leader Lee Qualm in this story from mcclatchydc.com. "He could give a rip about the rules."

House Bill 1072 now goes to a state Senate committee that has already approved its twin bill.

It all may be for naught, however, since Gov. Dennis Daugaard has said he would veto the bill, the story says. Though the bill cleared the House, it didn't have the support with a 37-30 vote to override a gubernatorial veto.

The McClatchy story says there were about 96,000 active regular and enhanced permits issued in South Dakota, the story says.

Recently, lawmakers in New Hampshire passed a constitutional carry bill, allowing residents to carry concealed firearms without a license, according to this story from rt.com.

“New Hampshire citizens are guaranteed the fundamental right to carry a firearm in defense of themselves and their families, as prescribed by Article 2a in our state constitution,” said Gov. Chris Sununu (R). “It is common-sense legislation. This is about safety.”

In that state, Republicans have tried to repeal the licensing requirement for years, but former Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) consistently vetoed any change, the story says. Like South Dakota and many other states, New Hampshire already allowed open carry without a permit. Concealed carry permits must be renewed every four years.

In the Utah state legislature, lawmakers have revived a constitutional carry bill, HB237, which initially failed on a tie vote in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee last week, according to this story from desertnews.com. However, the bill's sponsor, Rep. Lee Perry (R) brought the bill back to the committee after discussing it with lawmakers and making some minor changes.

Lawmakers voted 7-5 to move the bill to the House floor for a full vote. During a town hall meeting on the matter, domestic violence victim Heather Wosley urged lawmakers to support the bill, telling how her ex-husband nearly killed her and abused their children, the story says.

When her ex was released from prison, Wolsey said she purchased and carried it with her out of fear for her life, even though she didn’t have a permit.

“I broke the law because I carried it with me,” she said in tears. “I go home to six children, and everything I do goes toward them to raise them. I cannot stop mentally to take a four-hour class to have a permit to hide it in my purse to protect myself,” Wolsey said in the meeting. “I know full well if my ex finds me alone, I am dead. And I wake up with that every single day of my life.”

On the national level, legislation to treat concealed carry permits like drivers' licenses nationwide is gaining support in Congress, as well as opponents, according to this guns.com story.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) and 63 co-sponsors on the first day of session in the new House. Last week, the measure gained its 150th name in support.

"It's flat out false to say that this bill will arm criminals or increase gun violence," wrote Hudson in an op-ed published in U.S. News on Feb. 1. "If a criminal with malice wants to get a gun, I can guarantee he or she isn't worried about following the laws on the books. Unfortunately, we can't change that. But we can ensure law-abiding citizens can legally carry concealed firearms to defend themselves."

Hudson’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, entered as H.R. 38, would amend federal law to allow those eligible to possess a firearm to have a concealed handgun in any state that allows individuals to carry a pistol or revolver. Those who do so would have to carry a valid permit with them as well as a photo ID. The bill also applies to nonresident permit holders.

That last part has people worried because it would allow someone with say, a valid concealed carry permit in Pennsylvania to carry in New York City, though it is extremely difficult to get a carry permit for residents there.

It would also allow people in gun-control-heavy states like New Jersey to travel to states that grant non-resident permits, which would then be valid in their home state.

The bill faces strong opposition, mainly the accusation leveled by anti-gun advocates that say a national reciprocity bill would violate states’ rights and constitute a public safety threat.