Concealed carry laws are governed by each individual state. The result is that the laws can vary widely between states, and travelers must be wary and knowledgeable of the laws in the jurisdiction to which they are traveling. This, of course, poses a hardship for law-abiding gun owners who do not wish to be prosecuted for committing a crime simply because they were confused about the law in a certain location.
Some United States senators have proposed that concealed carry permits should be afforded the same recognition as driver’s licenses in each state, but such proposed legislation has routinely failed to pass in Congress. You can read more about these failed bills in my prior blog “In Support of HR 822”.
Another option to address the complexity created by 50 states with 50 different versions of carry laws would be to pass legislation allowing law abiding gun owners to not only own a gun, but to carry their firearm without obtaining additional governmental permission. This type of law is referred to as “constitutional carry”.
Constitutional carry reflects the view that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution permits no restrictions or other regulations on gun ownership for law-abiding citizens. In other words, if a person is not prohibited from possessing a gun, they should be allowed to carry the gun where they wish to carry it without first obtaining additional, special governmental permission. After all, the United States Supreme Court has held that our right to keep and bear arms is a right for self-defense purposes. It does no good to own a gun if you can’t take it with you to defend yourself.
Constitutional carry legislation allowing gun owners to carry firearms openly or concealed and without an applicable permit or license is a growing trend. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont, Wyoming, and Oklahoma allow law abiding gun owners to carry their firearms without special licensing. A few states allow open carry without special licensing, and at least 17 additional states have proposed legislation that would allow constitutional carry, although some of those bills have already failed.
Currently, Idaho continues to require concealed carry permits, but open carry is legal without a permit. A bill to allow constitutional carry was introduced in Idaho in 2011, but failed to pass. Another bill is set to be introduced in Idaho in the 2015 legislative session, but it recently came to light how misguided some politicians and some of the public are about what constitutional carry really means.
I recently attended a dinner where the issue of constitutional carry was raised by another attendee, Greg Pruett of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance. Greg directly asked Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney whether he would support constitutional carry in Idaho. As I listened to Sheriff Raney’s reasons for not supporting such a bill, it became apparent that some politicians fail to comprehend the concept and will mislead the public. Sheriff Raney exclaimed that he could not support constitutional carry because that would allow criminals to possess firearms. Wrong. Constitutional Carry will not override the federal Gun Control Act. All the “bad people” who are prohibited from possessing a gun still cannot carry a gun. He then stated that constitutional carry will allow known gang members to carry firearms and inhibit law enforcement’s ability to arrest these gang members.
Coming from a law enforcement background, I am all about getting the bad guys off the street. However, if all you’ve got is someone carrying a gun, you don’t get to play judge and jury and call that person a criminal. If the person is on probation or has been convicted of a felony, is a drug user, is engaging in criminal behavior, or falls into a host of other "prohibited person" categories, then we already have ample laws that prohibit that person from possessing firearms. The concern that constitutional carry would expand the ability of criminals to possess guns is therefore misplaced.
Idaho and other states will again propose constitutional carry legislation in 2015. Please help dispel the myths about constitutional carry. Law abiding gun owners should not have to maneuver through government beauracracy to exercise their right to carry for self-defense purposes. Greg Pruett has offered a video on the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance’s website. Greg's video is worth a watch. Please share the video and this blog and help educate others before the next legislative session.