Constitutional Carry! The time has come.
It is time to end state-level infringement of gun rights through the conversion of that right into a licensed or permit-required privilege. From the formation of the 13 original states, “constitutional carry” was the law in all states until the 19th century. By the 20th century, all states except Vermont had enacted concealed carry bans, with the exemption in most states for those citizens with a permit. Due to wording in its state constitution and decisions made by the state courts, Vermont has never been able to have a restriction on the method of how one could carry a firearm, and thus, in this regard, Vermont stood entirely separate from the rest of the United States for quite some time. Because of this, constitutional carry is still sometimes referred to as “Vermont carry”.
How did we get here? Many of the state-level carry restrictions began during post Civil War Reconstruction, especially in southern states that were, in effect, under Martial Law. Fear of freed blacks and confederate loyalists was a driving factor for carry restrictions nationwide. Yet, despite the motivating fears, both state and federal restrictions on “Arms” is and always has been wholly and patently unconstitutional. It doesn’t take a Constitutional Scholar to figure that out, because the Founders expressed it in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. There is much debate over the 2nd Amendment, but the debate is driven by a misunderstanding of the words rather than the intent. “But the Supreme Court has upheld…” you say? Well, first the Supreme Court is hardly infallible, Dred Scott protected slavery, Buck v Bell (Eugenics, forced sterilization and still “good law” to this day, Korematsu v United States upheld Japanese internment camps. More recent examples are Roe v Wade, Obamacare, Gay Marriage… None of which pass Constitutional muster and, in fact, are not addressed whatsoever in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
So, what does the Constitution and Bill of Rights say? Well, our first stop would be the “Supremacy Clause,” Article 6 Section 2 of the United States Constitution:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Constitution is the “supreme law of the land” and no other law passed by any of the states can trump the Constitution. By ratifying the Constitution, the original 13 states agreed to this “Supremacy,” as did every state that joined the Union thereafter.
“But how does that apply to carry laws?” you ask? We’re not done yet. Next stop the 10th Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Then there is the 14th Amendment “Privileges and Immunities” clause: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Which of course brings us the infamous 2nd Amendment:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Obviously, the “militia clause” is the core of the debate surrounding the 2nd Amendment, collective right (military/law enforcement) or individual right. However, the rest of the Amendment is crystal clear, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In every instance where the phrase “the people” is used it refers to the WHOLE of the people, every individual citizen of these United States. Yes, I will address the “militia clause” in a moment.
But first, let’s review. The Supremacy Clause makes the Constitution and Bill of Rights the “Supreme Law of the Land” that NO STATE may supersede. The 10th Amendment ONLY allows “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution” to fall to state control and the 14th Amendment prohibits states from abridging privileges and immunities of citizens. Therefore, a state may not abridge a citizen’s immunity from having their right to keep AND BEAR Arms infringed (14th) and that right is enshrined and protected in the 2nd Amendment therefore the power to infringe upon it DOES NOT and CANNOT fall to the states (10th), PERIOD.
As I stated before, Vermont was the only Constitutional Carry state for quite a long time, but where are we now? As of Nov. 2019 we’ll have 16 Constitutional Carry states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho (residents only), Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming (residents only). Arkansas “Constitutional Carry” law has been interpreted as Constitutional Carry, but is facing court challenges of that interpretation. Montana allows permitless Constitutional Carry, but only outside city limits and efforts are being proposed to lift the city limits restriction. There are at least six states with Bills filed to consider Constitutional Carry. Despite a few well-known strict anti-gun states passing MORE restrictive gun and carry laws, the trend nationally is towards Constitutional Carry.
The trend towards permitless right to carry legislation is large and growing. By the time state legislatures around the country close their 2020 business, it is entirely likely that we could have as many as 20 Constitutional Carry states. If this trend continues we could have 30 or 35 Constitutional Carry states within the next few years. With that kind of momentum and public pressure, even the strictest anti-gun states will feel the pressure to restore the rights of their citizens.
The Supreme Law of the Land protects every citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for the protections of themselves, their state and the nation. In fact, all but a handful of states have an “arms provision” in their state constitution as well. Most of which read something to the effect of every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state. Which is a state-level constitutional prohibition against regulating the carrying of arms.
When you look at the facts, the law and the Constitution (U.S. and individual states) the answer is clear. NO STATE has the power or authority to regulate, impose licensing/permits or to restrict in any way a citizen’s right to keep and BEAR arms, Period. Now is the time to restore those rights with #NoStateLeftBehind to continue such unconstitutional tyranny. Then, with states united in the freedom to exercise their rights, we can begin to tackle the unconstitutional infringements levied by the federal government. The Time Is Now, let us band together as Americans and Git Er Dun!