By: José Niño
On April 3, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that allows lawful individuals to carry a concealed firearm in public without having to obtain a permit. On top of that, this bill scrapped the state’s previous requirement for individuals to take training before carrying a concealed weapon outside of their homes.
Despite the repeal of the mandatory requirements, the state’s current licensing process and background system are kept in place for individuals who want to obtain a permit for reciprocity purposes. While this legislation is not pure Constitutional Carry, owing to how open carry is still not legal in Florida, its passage is still a step in the right direction. In signing this bill into law, Florida has become the 26th state with some form of permitless carry in the nation.
Putting things into perspective, Constitutional Carry has been the most successful right-to-bear-arms project in the past twenty years. Prior to the early 2000s, unlicensed concealed carry was an alien concept in most of the country. The exception to this was Vermont, which experienced an interesting state supreme court decision in 1903 that established unlicensed carry for over a century. “Vermont Carry” i.e., unlicensed concealed carry seemed like a fleeting prospect for pro-gun advocates for decades on end. It wasn’t until the 1980s, that states began to adopt licensed carry and slowly whittle away at state restrictions on the right to carry.
In 2003, Alaska finally ended the Constitutional Carry drought by adopting its own law. Arizona followed in Alaska’s footsteps in 2010 after then-Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed constitutional carry bill SB 1108. Since then, 23 states have followed suit in making Constitutional carry the law of the land.
These states include the following:
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Constitutional Carry’s success makes sense. Many angry gun owners, who have recognized that the federal government is not responsive to their demands to roll back unconstitutional encroachments on their right to bear arms, have shifted their political efforts towards state-level political campaigns. As a result of this change in focus, there are now 26 states with Constitutional Carry as law of the land. More states such as Louisiana, Nebraska, and South Carolina could be joining those ranks if they pass their respective Constitutional Carry laws.
Should these three states get on the Constitutional Carry win column, every red state in the US will have Constitutional Carry on the books. Constitutional Carry’s legislative success demonstrates the value of gun rights activists getting involved at the state level.
Once Constitutional Carry becomes the standard across red America, red states must continue doubling down by repealing gun-free zones and passing nullification measures against federal gun control measures. At the end of the day, the future of securing the right to bear arms lies in state legislatures.
As always, all politics begins locally.