Pro-Gun Activists Demand Permitless Carry of Concealed Weapons

Amid the controversy over the spread of Stand Your Ground gun laws and their role in the death of Trayvon Martin, gun rights activists are pushing for even fewer restrictions on firearms through a status they call “Constitutional Carry.”

  • Constitutional Carry would sanction individuals to carry weapons concealed or openly with no permit
  • Push for federal law to force states to honor other states’ looser gun laws
  • Next step is “Diplomatic Carry” allowing gun owners to pack heat in schools, shops, etc


On a RINO Hunt

Activists in Michigan have taken to the streets, proclaiming that they are hunting politicians who don’t support their pro-gun agenda. “We’re clearing out the RINOs (Republican in name only),” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, told a Lansing newspaper. “Us gun owners are on a RINO hunt. … We need to control the politicians.”

Facing national backlash over Stand Your Ground laws that have taken center stage in the Florida case against George Zimmerman, who is facing murder charges for shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin earlier this year, gun rights proponents aren’t backing down. On the contrary, the push is on for even fewer firearms restrictions on both a state and federal level.

What’s on activists’ minds? A questionably-named status known as Constitutional Carry, which would eliminate any permits or restrictions for carrying firearms in public, be they open or concealed. Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming already allow permit-less carry, with at least twelve more states considering similar rules. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard recently vetoed a Constitutional Carry law passed by the state’s legislature earlier this year.



Dennis Henigan

The activists are making some dubious legal claims, experts say. “First of all, [Constitutional Carry] is very much a misnomer,” says Dennis Henigan, vice president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that guarantees a right to carry a gun outside the home. . . A much better, more accurate phrase would be unregulated carry.”

Those pushing for looser rules, Henigan says, incorrectly cite the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling overturning handgun restrictions in Washington, D.C. While the ruling did affirm Second Amendment rights, rather than striking down gun permit laws across the nation, majority opinion author Antonin Scalia in fact wrote “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

“That undercuts the very premise of this movement,” says Henigan.


Slippery Slope

The Stand Your Ground laws, which eliminate the obligation to retreat before shooting someone who is threatening you, have spread to 25 states as part of an organized campaign by the National Rifle Association and the anti-consumer group American Legislative Exchange Council. So-called Constitutional Carry laws look like the next step.

“I think it’s basically exposing the gun lobby’s ultimate agenda, which they’ve been trying to disguise for many years, which is completely unregulated carrying of handguns,” says Henigan. “They’ve always emphasized how limited their agenda was. But it’s been a slippery slope.”

And lifting gun laws does have consequences. “Arizona adopted this proposal [unregulated carry] some years ago, that made Jared Loughner a legal concealed carry up until the moment he pulled the trigger on Congresswoman Gifford,” says Henigan, referring to the assassination attempt last year on the Arizona legislator.

More recently, the death of Trayvon Martin has raised further questions of whether its wise to allow people to carry guns without restrictions. “Trayvon is a very dramatic example of the cost in lives we pay for adopting the gun lobby’s agenda,” Henigan says. “Regardless of which version of events prevails in court, one thing we know is if George Zimmerman did not have a gun, Trayvon Martin likely would be alive today.”

The fight isn’t over, as states debate their own laws, and two federal laws are under consideration that would effectively nationalize the right to carry without a permit for people who reside in states with looser laws, an arrangement known as reciprocity.

Would Constitutional Carry be the be-all and end-all for gun rights activists? No. Next on the agenda: A push for Diplomatic Carry rules, which would exempt gun owners from any U.S. gun laws, effectively granting our own citizens diplomatic immunity and allowing individuals to pack heat in schools, shops, restaurants or anywhere else. Lock and load.

Should concealed weapons be allowed in places like schools and government buildings? Should states remove all restrictions and allow residents to carry weapons without permits? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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