Opinion

Restoring Our Constitutional Freedoms For Concealed Carry

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Tim Schmidt President, United States Concealed Carry Association

New Hampshire recently became the 12th state in the United States to strengthen the 2nd Amendment rights of lawful gun owners by getting rid of the unnecessary and redundant barrier of obtaining a concealed carry permit. This reform, known as constitutional carry, is sweeping the country, cutting the red tape away from responsible gun ownership.

More states are recognizing that their existing processes for legally obtaining a firearm, including extensive background checks, are sufficient enough that law-abiding citizens should not have to face yet another government-imposed hurdle. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming all have constitutional carry in place, with New Hampshire joining them on February 22nd, 2017. The Florida Supreme Court is currently considering a constitutional carry case, adding another state to this growing trend.

To be clear, the natural born right to self-defense is affirmed by the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. To require gun owners to go through a lengthy process to obtain a concealed carry permit as extensive as the ones in some states is an infringement on that right. More and more states are looking at implementing constitutional carry laws so that gun owners can freely exercise their natural right to defend themselves without needing a special piece of paper from the government. We do not need permission to exercise our freedom of speech, have due process rights, or practice the religion of our choosing. Why then, should we be compelled to wade through additional bureaucracy only for the 2nd Amendment?

The regulations and requirements for obtaining a concealed carry permit vary considerably across the 50 states. Some states require special training with an instructor on a shooting range for a certain number of hours. The process differs from state to state, with some states imposing very rigorous, time consuming requirements, and some with fewer requirements. Not only are the laws inconsistent across the United States, but these training classes can actually discourage gun owners from seeking additional gun safety training and continuing education, because they feel they have met the state requirements and have a satisfactory knowledge of how to use a firearm. Even after meeting the minimum prerequisites, any responsible gun owner needs practice and instruction to ensure maximum competency.  In fact, ongoing training and personal responsibility are core components of our mission at the U.S. Concealed Carry Associations (USCCA).

An armed society is a polite society.  The statistics are clear that a population of responsible gun owners in a community deters crime – attackers will think twice if there are armed citizens willing and able to fight back. That is why USCCA seeks to educate, train, and insure gun owners who want to protect themselves, their families, and their property from those who want to cause them harm. We support constitutional carry policies, because it reduces the burdens on people seeking to legally own a gun.

Criminals, by definition, operate outside the law. People who have no regard for the law do not go through a background check process to obtain a gun, and nor do they apply for concealed carry permits. Instead they turn to the black market or other illegal means.

Out of all the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights, the 2nd amendment has been singled out over the years for many layers of red tape and bureaucracy. Constitutional carry reforms in these 12 states that honor the intentions of our country’s most important document are a signal of a movement that citizens of the United States want a return to the basic freedoms guaranteed to them, without government interference.

The right of an individual to keep and bear arms is plainly spelled out in our Constitution, and doing so responsibly and lawfully will make America safer for our families, workplaces, and communities.

Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, and may be contacted at Press@USCCA.com.