The Ugly Truth Behind Concealed Carry Laws

The Idaho Senate is still considering House Bill 192, which allows applicants of concealed carry permits to apply for an “enhanced” permit if they meet “enhanced” criteria.  The additional criteria includes live-fire range time and instruction on gun laws.  Some gun owners support this bill, because they expect that the enhanced Idaho concealed carry permit will allow Idaho permit holders to enjoy greater reciprocity in other states.  The current Idaho resident concealed carry permit is granted reciprocity in 28 states.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Second Amendment advocates (see the Idaho Second Amendment Foundation at are circulating a petition to banish the requirement that lawful gun owners seek additional licensing to carry a concealed firearm.  States without additional licensing requirements are referred to as “Constitutional Carry” states, and currently include, among others, Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming.  Constitutional carry states do not require additional licensing for a person to carry a concealed firearm.  If a person can lawfully own a gun, they can carry their firearm open or concealed.   Idaho law allows the open carry of firearms with little restriction.  However, in order to carry concealed in Idaho, a person must either have a license in another state, or obtain an Idaho license.

So why is there an ugly truth behind the concealed carry licensing laws?  Because gun laws are rooted in prejudice, and the postbellum concealed carry laws are no exception.  While a few states passed non-discriminatory, antebellum concealed carry laws in an attempt to reduce murder rates, the states enacting these early laws were few (and the laws ineffectual).  Slaves were suppressed in America when they were defenseless.  And after the Civil War, a new breed of gun control laws were passed to ensure they remained defenseless.

The Black Codes imposed special laws on freedmen, preventing them from traveling without permission, restricting their right to assemble, to contract, to own property, and to testify in court.  These same Black Codes also restricted blacks from possessing firearms, or required them to obtain permits, which were generally denied.  These initial permit requirements did not apply to whites.

In the 1920s and 30s, states next began passing laws granting sheriffs the discretion to determine whether or not a person should be allowed to carry a firearm.  The NRA president at the time, Karl Frederick, helped draft model legislation to restrict concealed carry of firearms in public, “A Uniform Act to Regulate the Sale and Possession of Firearms”.

The model legislation suggested that sheriffs should allow only “suitable” applicants with a “proper reason” for carrying a gun in public to obtain a permit.    Most states adopted a version of this model concealed carry permit legislation.  These laws expanded the discrimination beyond blacks.  In 1986, California’s own legislative research body found that the majority of California permit holders were white males, even though at the same time, many victims of violent crime were female or non-white.  It wasn’t until decades later (increasing particularly since 1987) that states began to recognize the inherent prejudice in the discretionary permit laws (“may issue”), and began passing what are now referred to as “shall issue” laws.  The “shall issue” version of the concealed carry permit laws require sheriffs to issue concealed carry permits to all applicants who meet statutory criteria.  While the shall issue laws negate much of the subjective discrimination allowed in the past, these laws are still an unnecessary infringement on our Second Amendment.    The United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, upheld the Second Amendment as an individual right to self-defense.  Requiring lawful gun owners to obtain an additional license to carry their personal defense firearm in public, but out of sight of criminals and the general public, is an unnecessary and illogical (see below) infringement on the Second Amendment.

Many people are shocked to learn that Martin Luther King, Jr. was denied a concealed carry permit.  While the denial of his permit was based upon a restrictive law supposedly designed to protect the innocent, we since have been armed with the research of Professor John Lott demonstrating the undeniable statistics:  violent crime rates drop when law-abiding individuals are allowed to arm themselves.

The standard gun control argument is that gun control is for our own safety.  The reality is, gun control is about control.  Gun control does not eliminate guns.  Gun control places the guns in the hands of an elite group of individuals:   government officials, their “loyal party members”, and criminals.   One of my most active posts on this site was when I asked the question, “How can anyone who has ever read a single history book believe that disarming the citizens while arming the government is a good idea?”   Throughout history, tyrants have disarmed the individuals in order to render the citizens defenseless:  Hitler, Stalin, Mau, Pol Pot, to name a few.

And the American government is no different.   Our own history indicates that our government will pass gun control laws in order to gain control over individuals.  It has happened before, and it can happen again.  That is precisely why our Founders protected the individual’s right to bear arms for self-defense, and defense against a tyrannical government.  Any infringement on a law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms is unacceptable.