Is Constitutional Carry a Mistake? By:

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Ed. note — The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Armory Life. Readers should understand their state’s firearms laws and seek out legal advice from a qualified attorney.

“Constitutional Carry” is best understood as lawful concealed carry of a handgun by non-criminal citizens. It seems to be all the rage these days. Originally known as “Vermont Carry” — Constitutional Carry is now legal in 29 of the 50 states.

is constitutional carry a mistake
Permitless carry, better known as Constitutional Carry, is becoming more common across the United States. Does it still make sense to obtain a concealed carry permit?

Constitutional Carry is so named because it fulfills what the Founding Father’s — who were possessed of some of the greatest human minds ever created — had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. It reads thus:

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Note that it doesn’t read “…shall not be infringed if the people are issued permits” or some other such mangling of this most simple phrase that changes a right — the Natural Right to Self-Defense — into a privilege. I get it and I support it! 100%. 

open carry of Springfield Armory XDe 9mm semi-automatic pistol
Many areas — such as your own private property — gives you a broader range of carry options from a legal standpoint. Once you leave your property, state restrictions may curtail those rights.

It’s about 90 years overdue — which was when pistol permits really started becoming popular in big cities. Under the old “may issue” system — which means that the permitting authority doesn’t have to issue a permit if it doesn’t want to — permits could become part of a political patronage system of the day.

The current “shall issue” permitting system came into being to stop the political patronage system from interfering with the right of the people to keep and bear arms — actually to bear said arms in public. It was a great boon that started in Florida and spread across the United States in a relatively rapid fashion.

open carry of handgun in vehicle
The legality of carrying a weapon in a vehicle can vary from state to state. Check your state’s laws to understand what is legal in your jurisdiction.

Yes, it was a great improvement over the “may issue” or “no issue” permit system. If you are a law-abiding citizen, take a certified training course and pay a normally reasonable fee of around $50, you too could go about in public properly armed — well in most places anyway, but that is another story.

But now that we have true Constitutional Carry in so many states, including my own state of Ohio, is there any need for the extra expense and time invested in obtaining a concealed carry permit? I would say yes, there is — for certain specific circumstances. One of those circumstances is carry reciprocity with other states.

In its most basic form, Concealed Carry Reciprocity has traditionally meant that a particular state that issues concealed permits may, if it chooses, recognize a citizen’s concealed carry permit from another state. Usually, such agreements occur between states that have similar requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit such as background checks and training requirements.

using car door for cover during a defensive shooting
If you travel out of state, a CCW permit can give you additional carry flexibility in states you visit.

What all this boils down to is that you can carry your handgun in a reciprocal state — placing yourself under the control of their legal system. This means that if your home state would allow you to carry in almost any location, but the state you are visiting doesn’t, then you are subject to the laws and rules of the state you are a guest in. Failure to do so will result in you being a guest in one of that state’s less-than-desirable facilities. 

Besides the advantage of permit reciprocity in the 21 states that currently do not have Constitutional Carry — which means that your Constitutional Carry rights don’t extend to that state while you are there — some states’ laws provide additional benefits for those who choose to get a permit.

Some of you may take issue with me for saying this, and that’s ok — I understand why you might do that. After all, getting Constitutional Carry passed into law — let’s use Ohio again — took a lot of effort, and it was the right and Constitutional thing to do.

Springfield Emissary interior of classic car
When carrying in a vehicle, it is highly recommended that you keep your handgun in a holster or storage container. Even a minor accident can cause an unsecured firearm to slide onto the floor or under a seat.

But I think that one of the most important things that a Concealed Carry Permit can do for you occurs in a post-shooting contact with police or in a courtroom in the aftermath.

Looking at things as a law enforcement officer with 40 years of experience, I’ve been glad for having my badge and ID on my person for the times I’ve had contact with other officers in different jurisdictions who didn’t know me. It helped set a proper tone for things. It and a calm demeanor made it clear that I was one of the “good guys”, saving everyone a lot of angst.

what to do while waiting for the police after shooting someone
If you are forced to use your firearm for self-defense, how will you interact with law enforcement officers when they arrive? How will they know who the “good guy” is?

Having a state-issued Concealed Carry Permit will likewise potentially change the dynamic with officers who have reason to have an encounter with you — such as in the aftermath of a defensive shooting. Presenting a Concealed Carry Permit card shows the officer(s) that, at least as of the date of the card issuance, you had no criminal record, and that you had some modicum of state mandated training, and that you wanted to take the extra steps to get one.

While you can take some excellent firearms training classes on your own, it’s a lot less convenient to carry a “proof of training” certificate around than it is a state-issued ID card.

man with pistol next to truck
Obtaining a carry permit has certain advantages to it. It may not be necessary, but it is worth considering.

Yes, I know, you don’t have to get a permit — and Constitutional Carry laws bring us to the concept of self-defense as correctly envisioned by our forefathers. However, consider what might be in your best interest if the balloon goes up for real.

I hope I don’t sound like I have a negative attitude towards Constitutional Carry. I don’t. It’s the way things should have been all along. The Second Amendment to the Constitution, and the equivalent amendments of the individual state Constitutions, should have prevented any permit system from developing, especially since many state amendments are more direct and forceful in this regard.

While Constitutional Carry is not a diminishment of any right to bear arms under the law compared to a state-issued Concealed Carry Permit, I think obtaining a permit has certain advantages to it, as does Constitutional Carry. Consider that permit an added layer of protection for you.

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!

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