Earlier this month legislation passed the Texas State Senate, which could allow residents to carry a handgun without a permit. Known as “unrestricted,” “permitless carry” or “Constitutional Carry,” it reflects the view that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution does not abide by restrictions on gun rights, including the right to carry or otherwise bear arms.
The Republican-led effort has already passed the Texas House.
“This bill should be called common-sense carry,” said Texas State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-District 6) when he introduced House Bill 1927 in the Lone Star State last month. The bill would remove the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns, provided they’re not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm. Under current law, residents of Texas must generally be licensed to carry handguns, either openly or concealed.
History of Constitutional Carry
As Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has already said he would sign the bill into law, Texas will likely become the fourth state to enable the carry laws this year, as Utah’s new law just came into effect in early May, while Montana’s will go into effect on June 1, followed by Iowa and Tennessee on July 1. Three other states – Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Kentucky – did away with all carry permit requirements in 2019.
Currently, twenty other states have some form of Constitutional Carry laws, and each state has set its own age limits and some restrictions. In some cases it is also only open to residents, and in others is only for concealed carry of handguns.
Originally the concept of being able to carry a handgun with a permit was known as “Vermont carry,” as the state never restricted the carry of firearms by any adult. It was ruled by the Vermont State Supreme Court that the state’s constitution didn’t allow for any restrictions to be placed on residents, including a licensing scheme. As a result, Vermont has been described as being a Constitutional Carry state since even before the United States existed.
Wyoming became the first state to enact or re-introduce similar laws.
Is it Safe?
A common concern by opponents of such laws is whether it is unsafe, as it might encourage untrained or otherwise unqualified individuals to carry a handgun. However, supporters of Constitutional Carry note that concealed carry laws have never stopped criminals from simply illegally carrying a firearm while the permit process could keep law-abiding citizens from being able to carry a weapon for self-defense.
Supporters of permitless carry maintain that many individuals in Constitutional Carry states are still undergoing training with certified instructors. Likewise, a common complaint is the high costs of permits, which greatly impact those in the lower-income brackets – not to mention the additional time to take the classes to receive a permit.
No state allows those under eighteen years of age to carry a firearm, while half require that the individual be at least twenty-one years old.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.